Tuesday, 14 December 2021
European Council Meeting: Statements
The Minister is supporting vaccine apartheid. In the European Union, 320 million people have been vaccinated and 70 million have received their boosters. That is fine and as it should be, but more than 3 billion people worldwide have not even received their first dose yet. In Africa fewer than one in five have been vaccinated. In fact, in one fifth of African countries fewer than one in 20 have been vaccinated. The governments continue to support holding the line against abolishing the TRIPS waiver or the intellectual property rights of the vaccine companies to allow generic production. Last week in the Seanad the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Varadkar, stated:
[I]t is better to have governments and pharmaceutical companies working together to find a solution rather than trying to create conflicts and turn one against the other. I do not think that is the right approach.
In other words, there is a veto for the big pharmaceutical companies. The Tánaiste's alternative is the COVAX programme. The COVAX programme has delivered less than one third of the vaccines that have been pledged. The solution is to waive the intellectual property rights.
The Government must change its position. It is a scandalous position. We need vaccine production to meet the needs of people and not to be for profit. Furthermore, we need to take the big pharmaceutical companies into public ownership and run them under workers' control and management to meet the needs of people.