Countries must be allowed to produce generic covid vaccines

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland 
28 December 2020

The covid-19 vaccine should be made publicly and freely available to all. Countries should be allowed to produce their own vaccines nationally and begin their vaccination programmes immediately. 
     Never before has the contradiction between private health and public need been so obvious. 
     In November this year South Africa and India, supported by a number of other states, put forward a modest position to the World Trade Organisation to allow countries to co-operate with the Big Pharma producers of covid-19 vaccines in a way that was cost-effective and would allow those countries to produce generic versions of the vaccine so as to fight the spread of this virus and to save people’s lives. 
     These modest proposals would have entailed the waiving of certain intellectual property rights, and so they have been rejected by the voting blocs of the European Union, the United States, and Britain. 
     The CPI is making a clear call for all intellectual property rights over the covid-19 vaccines to be waived to allow for generic production of the vaccine in various countries. The priority must be saving lives and stopping the spread of the virus. No profits or property rights should supersede this. 
     For nearly a year humanity has worked to contain and stop the spread of the virus. Everyone has sacrificed, including far too many who have paid the ultimate price, for Big Pharma, supported by various states and the EU, to now profit and limit the production of vaccines. This exposes once again the barbaric nature of capitalism. 
     The profits of massive corporations are being given priority and are protected over the lives of millions of people, particularly working people, peasants and the poor and especially those in former colonies in the global south—another example of the continuing plunder and blatant disregard for human life. It is also clear that there is no division or difference between the United States, the EU and Britain when it comes to protecting the profits of global corporations. They are fully united on that. 
     All progressives forces must demand of the Irish Government that it supports proposals from the global south to ensure that people all over the world get this vaccine quickly. 
     Front-line workers in every country should be given priority in a general distribution of the vaccine, even if that slows it down for the mass of the population here. Now is the time for equality, solidarity and a progressive foreign policy from this state.