Almost two-thirds of people in Ireland say Covid-19 vaccine control should end to accelerate supply

Almost two-thirds of people in Ireland say Covid-19 vaccine control should end to accelerate supply

Wednesday 10 March 2021

This time last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Now a new survey by Oxfam Ireland reveals that more than six out of 10 people (62%) in Ireland say that the Government should ensure that pharmaceutical companies who develop Covid-19 vaccines should not retain monopoly control.

Instead, they want the Government to ensure that companies share vaccine science and technology with other approved companies worldwide. Our research found that just 18 percent of those polled supported the Government’s current approach of protecting pharmaceutical companies’ vaccine monopoly. 

The findings of our survey come as more than 100 developing nations – led by South Africa and India – make the case at the World Trade Organisation for a waiver of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). This will take place today and tomorrow.

This waiver would override the monopolies held by pharmaceutical firms and enable the urgent scale-up in production of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines to ensure all countries get access to the doses they need. The EU continues to block this proposal – a move currently supported by Ireland.  

Our polling also highlights that two-thirds of those surveyed believe Covid-19 will remain a risk to personal health, while 76 percent think it will remain a threat to the Irish economy if the virus continues to spread elsewhere in the world. Almost three out of five (56%) of those surveyed believe it will be faster to vaccinate everyone if science and technologies are shared. We also found that:

Responding to the findings, Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, said: “There is clear support among the Irish public for equitable vaccine supply, as well as evident concern about the continued and prolonged impact this virus will have if it continues to spread beyond Ireland.  

People in developing countries need access to vaccines to protect lives and reduce the associated risks the virus poses, just as people in Ireland do. Without united global action, the Covid-19 health crisis, and resulting economic fallout and disruption will continue to have grave effects here in Ireland and worldwide.

The current limits to global vaccine supplies could result in some countries having to wait until at least 2023 for mass immunisation. While countries in the WHO’s COVAX facility will see the arrival of doses in the coming days, the amounts available mean only three percent of their populations can hope to be vaccinated by mid-year. At best, just one fifth will be vaccinated by the end of this year.   

All the leading vaccine developers have benefitted from billions of dollars in public subsidies, yet they have been handed the monopoly rights to produce and profit from them – already generating billions in revenue.  

At the same time, qualified vaccine producers all over the world are on standby, ready to produce more vaccines if they are given access to the technology and know-how. New capacity could be brought on stream within months.  

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