In Ireland and other European countries, the COVID-19 vaccine booster roll-out continues at pace. While this is a welcome development, it highlights the stark inequity that exists across the globe for access to COVID-19 vaccines and other treatments.
As of December 2021, 75% of those in high-income countries have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to only 7% in low-income countries.
These countries have fragile health infrastructures and weak economies and are unable to sustain the increased pressure caused by the pandemic. As a result, resources are being diverted from other important areas such as HIV and malaria prevention.
Medical professionals and scientists around the world are calling for the removal of barriers that are limiting access to vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 to these countries.
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.
In 2020, India and South Africa proposed the TRIPS Waiver. The aim of the proposal was to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights for health technologies that are needed to prevent, contain, or treat COVID-19, until vaccine equity could be achieved. The waiver is now supported by approximately 100 nations but continues to be opposed by some states and institutions, including the EU.
As an institution wholly-focused on improving human health, RCSI became the first in Ireland to call on the Irish Government to endorse the TRIPS Waiver which would pave the way for the generic production of medicines and provide low- and middle-income countries with access to COVID-19 vaccines and other treatments.
Since RCSI’s endorsement, a motion was also passed in the Seanad (upper house of the Irish parliament) calling on the Government to support the TRIPS Waiver.
RCSI is encouraging medical professionals and scientists to sign the mission statement to support the call for the TRIPS Waiver at the links below:
- For medical professionals: amnesty.ie/real-solutions-for-vaccine-equity
- For scientists: globalhealth.ie/doctors-for-vaccine-equity
RCSI is committed to achieving a better and more sustainable future through the UN Sustainable Development Goals.