Health & Wealth: Solidarity and justice in developing and delivering vaccines for COVID19

The race for a vaccine for COVID19 is a regular feature of the airways and newsprint since the outbreak of the pandemic in February and March this year. But what will happen after an effective vaccine is developed – do these headlines inform us of the processes and frameworks underpinning future vaccine production and how vaccines will be accessed by a global population?

A global pandemic, by definition, affects all humans on the planet. Yet wealthy nations representing just 13% of the world’s population have already captured, via advance purchase agreements, most promised vaccine doses. Alongside the deep injustice of this, there are other questions around who gets to hold intellectual property rights related to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics, and what such rights will mean for access to these in the Covid-19 context.

What does it mean for global health or notions of solidarity when medicines, diagnostics and vaccines are legal private property? How is public funding towards the development costs of such Covid-19 vaccine/medicines reflected in intellectual property rights over proven vaccines/medicines arising? And what is being done to challenge these deep-rooted inequalities?

Join us as Comhlámh and the Department of International Development in Maynooth continue our new season of #FirstWeds conversations. Our panel of health practitioners, patent experts and patient advocates help explain what lines behind the headlines of vaccine development and delivery during this pandemic

Our panel on the night are

Roz Scourse: Roz is a Policy Advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign, based in the UK. Roz predominantly works on issues related to ensuring equitable access to medical products globally, including vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. Roz focuses on monitoring UK policies and laws related to access, as well as following specific products being developed in the UK and advocating for strategies and policies which aim to maximise access for people living in countries where MSF works, and beyond. This includes monitoring issues related to intellectual property, affordability,

supply, allocation, transparency of information, and sharing of data and knowledge. Previous to MSF, Roz worked with other civil society organisations working on access to medicines issues in the UK.

Dr Aisling McMahon is an Assistant Professor of Law at Maynooth University where she specialises in medical and intellectual property law. Her work is particularly interested in the role of patents within the health context, including the impacts patents can have on access to, and delivery of healthcare. Aisling has published widely within the leading international peer reviewed medical and intellectual property journals, including in the: Journal of Medical Ethics, Medical Law ReviewCambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics,  and the Intellectual Property Quarterly.

Her work has been funded by sources including: the British Academy/Leverhulme, Irish Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council and the Society of Legal Scholars. Before joining Maynooth University in 2018, Dr McMahon was Assistant Professor in Biolaw and Co-Director of the Centre for Ethics, Law and the Life Sciences (CELLS) at Durham University (2017-2018), and a lecturer in law at Newcastle University (2014-2017). Her PhD from the University of Edinburgh examined the role of the morality provisions within the patenting of biotechnological inventions.

Robbie Lawlor. Robbie became active within the HIV community since his diagnosis in 2012. Robbie is a member of Act Up Dublin, European AIDS Treatment Group, and is a co-founder of Access to Medicines Ireland. Robbie is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Dublin City University and has a particular interest in grassroots activism and the access to medicines movement in Eastern Europe. His research is exploring HIV/HEP C treatment activism in Ukraine. 

We are as ever grateful for the support of Concern in organising our First Weds