UL School of Medicine backs campaign for vaccine equity

Professor Deirdre McGrath, Head of the UL School of Medicine

THE University of Limerick School of Medicine has called on the Government to support the World Health Organisation’s recommendations for global vaccine equity.

The school joins hundreds of medical professionals and institutions across the country calling on the Government to heed the WHO’s recommendations, which include support for a waiver of Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), redistribution of global vaccine supplies, and rational purchasing of vaccines to prevent ongoing hoarding and wastage.

The TRIPS waiver would temporarily suspend copyright on Covid vaccines. This would enable vaccine production in the Global South, resulting in a reliable and sustainable supply chain in the areas where vaccine coverage is dangerously low.

At present, 79.9 per cent of Ireland’s  population are fully vaccinated compared to only 4.9 per cent of people in low-income countries.

Professor Deirdre McGrath, Head of the UL School of Medicine, said: “Vaccine equity clearly aligns with our School’s vision to positively impact the health and wellbeing of our global community, and our mission to advocate for changes that will enhance the quality and outcomes of healthcare, locally, nationally and globally.

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“UL School of Medicine commits to supporting equity in vaccine production and delivery, and to contributing to national dialogue on this important topic,” Professor McGrath added.

Inconsistent and inequitable vaccination supply represents a threat to global recovery from the Covid pandemic. While there is ongoing viral circulation anywhere in the world, lives and economies remain in jeopardy.

“Ongoing transmission may also result in the emergence of additional new variants, placing already strained health systems under further pressure. In simple terms, no one is safe until everyone is safe,” Professor McGrath explained.

At present, more than 300 Irish doctors have publicly pledged support for vaccine equity. The UL School of Medicine joins other prominent professional organisations such as the Irish Medical Organisation, the Irish Society for Specialists in Public Health, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and St James’ Hospital in endorsing this urgent and vital campaign.

Professor McGrath explained: “Social accountability represents one of the UL School’s key values, and is reflected in its actions. Both the School of Medicine and the University are committed to the pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include Good Health and Reduced Inequalities.

“As such, the School fully endorses the implementation of a TRIPS waiver and the rationalisation of our vaccine purchasing, and we encourage the Government to continue to think globally in its approach to this pandemic,” Professor McGrath added.