Today outside Leinster House, People Before Profit launch their “Access to Medicines and Vaccines” policy document (attached).
The document covers People Before Profit’s argument for the waiving of intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines and other essential medicines. It also outlines a vision for a not-for-profit pharmaceutical sector in Ireland, and argues for an open, progressive “Science for the People” to tackle vaccine hesitancy and mistrust in science.
People Before Profit have been calling for patent-free vaccine production since the publication of their Zero Covid Roadmap document in 2020, and have endorsed global calls made by the People’s Vaccine Alliance on the lifting of WTO TRIPS rules that govern patent protections on vaccines. People Before Profit state that vaccine inequality is “not just a moral outrage, but a deadly threat to global public health”.
Speaking at the launch, Bríd Smith TD, said: “It is clear that we need a People’s Vaccine and the waiving of patient protection on vaccines in order to beat this pandemic. There are shockingly low levels of access to vaccines across the world, not only does this mean prolonged suffering and danger for unvaccinated populations, it means jeopardising progress made by vaccination elsewhere. The longer people are without vaccines, the greater the risk of a novel variant emerging that will evade vaccine protection. We will not be safe, until everyone is safe. Private companies producing vaccines for profit will not beat this virus – that is why we urgently need equality of access for all.”
Conor Reddy, co-author of the document, People Before Profit’s representative for Dublin North West and PhD Student in Immunology at the TCD School of Medicine, said: “The advent of not one, but several, safe and highly effective vaccines, less than a year from when the pandemic began is a testament to the immense liberatory and life-saving potential of Science and medicine today. Under capitalism however, this is a potential that is never fully realised. Global vaccine inequality is not a technical problem, it is a political choice, made to protect profit and private ownership of technologies we all should own. Massive amounts of public money went into the development and production of all of these vaccines – the Moderna-NIH vaccine for example, was almost exclusively publicly funded; these vaccines should be treated as a global public good, available to all. Patents should be lifted, and technology transfer should be mandated by governments around the world.”