Letters to the Editor: Pharma industry needs to share its vaccine knowledge

May 1st, 2021 3:10 PM

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EDITOR – As people in Cork, and across the country, feel justified frustration and disappointment about vaccination programme delays here in Ireland, most developing countries are expected to be waiting until 2023 or even 2024 for vaccinations.

This is a devastating moral failure which threatens us all. It will lead to suffering, loss of life and a potential cost to the global economy of over $3 trillion annually. In addition, ongoing outbreaks anywhere mean a greater risk of new variants developing, against which current vaccines may not be effective.

There is universal agreement that manufacturing capacity of vaccines must rapidly increase to meet the need. Pharmaceutical companies claim there are no other manufacturers capable of contributing to production and that it would take years to get a plant up and running. This is simply not true.  Knowledge Ecology International has identified over 208 sites (six of these in Ireland) with possible capacity to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines. Take for example the pharmaceutical giant Lonza. They were producing an MRNA vaccine within three months of signing a contract with Moderna and it took an average of only six months for other licensed manufacturers to get up and running between contract signing and vaccine output.

A World Health Organization (WHO) initiative called the Covid Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) urges the pharma industry to share its intellectual property rights and know-how with other potential manufacturers to speed up vaccine supplies globally. Forty countries have already signed up, including five in Europe.

We are calling on the Irish government to give their support to C-TAP and be a champion of global health equality. This pandemic will not be over until it is over for everyone. We ask you please to press your public representatives to call on the Government to support C-TAP.

Siobhán McGee

Chief executive, ActionAid, Ireland

Dr Kieran Harkin

GP & founding member, Access to Medicines Ireland

Seeking details on Kinsale man

EDITOR – In the early hours of Friday May 20th 1921, a young pharmacist by the name of Thomas McEver was taken from his boarding house in Dunmore, Co Galway and brutally killed by Crown forces.

To this day his death remains a mystery as he was not actively involved in the republican struggle at the time and was a popular member of the local community.

He was originally from Fisher Street in Kinsale and had only moved to Co Galway the previous October.

I am part of a group in Dunmore who plan to mark the centenary of his death and would be delighted to hear from any relatives or people in the Kinsale area who wish to contribute to his memory.

If your readers have any details on him or simply want to get in touch, they can contact me by emailing [email protected], or by calling me at 093-24154.

Dr Jarlath Deignan,


Co Galway

Worthy aspirations but not reality

EDITOR – A crudely-converted cargo vessel recently left Cork on its 10-day journey to war-torn Libya, with approximately 2,000 cattle on board, most, if not all of them, unwanted cast-offs from the dairy industry.

The seas are frequently rough and the animals suffer from motion sickness. Unsurprisingly, the pens become soiled and impossibly slippery. Broken limbs are common and the animals must be euthanized when that happens. The crew have some level of rudimentary training and use a captive bolt pistol when necessary. There is meant to be a vet on board but this is rarely the case.

The journey is just one part of the problem. Investigations by animal welfare NGOs have exposed brutal slaughter methods in countries like Turkey and Libya. It is common for the bulls to be strung up by a hind leg and left dangling while the slaughterman stabs at their throats until they bleed out, bellowing in terror and in pain. Add to this the fact that Libya is a war-torn country with no effective government and poor animal welfare regulations to boot. This is no place to be sending our animals.

What is the point of heaping praise on the government’s new animal welfare strategy, as Minister McConologue did earlier this year, if he and his department turn a blind eye to this brutal and poorly-regulated trade in live animals?

The strategy is filled with worthy aspirations and an explicit acknowledgement of animal sentience, but in the context of the live export trade to Libya, it is, frankly, a meaningless document.

Gerry Boland,


Co Roscommon

Let’s keep loving nature post Covid

EDITOR – Newspaper and magazine columnists have been writing evocatively of our new found affinity with nature, of how we’ve attuned ourselves to a world we either took for granted pre-pandemic or didn’t notice at all.

The appearance of bluebells and the return flight of the Brent Geese to the Arctic are sights to behold, as is the emergence from its furtive ways of the fox that increasingly turns up in gardens and city streets.

But will we retain this appreciation of nature once the war against Covid has been won? Let’s not forget that a quarter of Irish bird species are endangered, including the puffin, kestrel and curlew. The fox that accepts food from admiring householders may encounter man’s darker side in the autumn, when so-called sportspeople set off to hound these wild dogs for ‘sport.’

Hares run free in the meadows and across the hills and mountainsides, and lift our hearts when we see them; but come September coursing clubs will be licensed to capture them for use as live bait.

Mother Nature has been kind to us at a time when we needed her desperately.

Let’s not forget that when lockdown ends, instead of making the countryside a hell on earth for wildlife.

John Fitzgerald,


Co Kilkenny

Another jab for people to think about

EDITOR – Heads up to all of you who have had chicken pox. You carry  the shingles virus in your system.

This is a very painful virus that can be avoided. There is a vaccination that is available against shingles.

Having spent the last two weeks suffering from this, in spite of pain pills from the doctor, I would urge you to ask for this jab.

Lorelie Rabbitt-Tomko,


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