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  • 3 min read
  • Published: 8th March 2023
  • Press Release by Christine Bale

Ireland Undermined Efforts to Achieve Global Vaccine Equity

stat everyone for themselves report

Oxfam Ireland today called for our global response to COVID-19 to be included in the upcoming State inquiry into COVID 19. This on foot of a report showing how Ireland undermined international efforts to make vaccines available to low-income countries.

This runs contrary to the government’s claims that they were a very strong supporter of global vaccine equity.

“This is far from a matter of historical interest,” said Oxfam Ireland’s Head of Policy and Advocacy (and report co-author), Michael McCarthy Flynn. “Future pandemics are a certainty, and we have to learn from past mistakes and do better for all our sakes.”

The report, “Everyone for Themselves - How Ireland Undermined Efforts to Fully Vaccinate the World against COVID-19” was launched in the Oireachtas today. The timing is a week after the Irish negotiators[i] return from Geneva, where the WHO pandemic treaty negotiations have so far failed to produce concrete commitments and enforceable measures for vaccine sharing in future.

Oxfam’s detailed analysis of Irish government actions during the pandemic is under three key main headings.

  1. The failure to support the TRIPS[ii]  waiver, against advice from the WHO, over 100 countries, two Irish parliamentary committees and the Seanad. The government’s position instead aligned with the pharmaceutical industry’s interests and stance. The report contains an analysis of the lobbying records from the pharmaceutical industry.
  2. Their preferred option was vaccine donations, and this was problematic. For one, the hoarding of more vaccines than was needed limiting access to low-income countries. Oxfam’s analysis also found donations were 20% short with 12% of vaccines close to expiry[iii]. In addition, we did not supply the most effective vaccines for the recipient countries[iv].
  3. They failed to provide adequate funding to strengthen health care systems in poorer countries to aid distribution of vaccines.

Overall, the WHO, World Health Organization, calculated that Ireland provided just 6% of our “fair share” of funding to support the response to COVID-19 globally.

“Happily, the worst effects of COVID are behind us in Ireland but we have to remember that over 6,000 people are still dying every week from COVID 19 . In low-income countries, just 23% of people are fully vaccinated. The cost of COVID continues to be enormous. It is estimated that it pushed 163 million people into poverty and set global development back by at least a decade,” said Michael McCarthy Flynn of Oxfam Ireland.

“Our report shows Ireland actively contributed to a human rights violation and we’re calling today for the government to turn this appalling record around with a set of recommendations. The most immediate of which is that Ireland’s global response should be included in the upcoming State inquiry into COVID 19,” said Michael McCarthy Flynn.


Contact: Clare Cronin - External Communications Manager Email: clare.cronin@oxfam.org   Mobile +353 (0) 87 195 2551

Alice Dawson Lyons - Head of Communications and Campaigns - Oxfam Ireland Email: alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org Mobile: +353 (0) 83 198 1869


  1. On 1 December 2021, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to set up a process for the WHO Member States to negotiate a new legal instrument (often called a ‘pandemic treaty’).
    The International Negotiating Body (INB) tasked with drafting the treaty, has achieved a zero draft. See People’s Vaccine Alliance comments on the zero draft here.
    During the fourth INB sessions, (27th February to 3rd March 2023) Member States planned to translate general themes into concrete commitments and practical mechanisms.
    Officials in the Department of Health working with Ireland's Permanent Representation to the UN in Geneva, are engaging with the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body.
  2. TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) is a World Trade Organisation Agreement that protects intellectual property, including patents on medicines produced by pharmaceutical companies.
  3. The above figures are correct as of Nov. 2022.
  4. See footnote 13 in the Report.

Oxfam is part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a movement advocating that COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured rapidly and at scale, as global common goods, free of intellectual property protections and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge.