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The Explainer: Does global vaccine inequality put us at risk of new Covid variants?

Assistant Professor at Trinity College Dublin, Kim Roberts, and Dimitri Eynikel from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) ‘Access’ campaign join us on the podcast this week.

Image: Shutterstock

BY NOW YOU have read about Omicron, the latest Covid-19 variant of concern. 

Its emergence led almost immediately to travel restrictions – and to discussions about how effective our vaccines are against the new variant.

It also raised questions about the fact that vaccines have not been distributed around the world equally. This is an issue that has been raised by numerous high profile people, including Dr Mike Ryan of the World Health Organisation.

This week, a ‘mock funeral’ demonstration was organised outside Leinster House to protest against Ireland’s and the EU’s slowness on lifting the patents on Covid vaccines. The protesters said that if those patents were lifted, it would be easier for developing countries to make and distribute vaccines.

In November, after the booster was extended to people over 50, more than 350 scientists and healthcare professionals signed a statement urging the Irish Government to support the generic production of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments to address global vaccine inequity.

So is vaccine equity a way to stop variants from appearing, why is there opposition to lifting the patents, and what do we know about Omicron?

On the podcast this week we’re joined by virologist and Assistant Professor at Trinity College Dublin, Kim Roberts, who talks us through what is known – and unknown- about Omicron, and Dimitri Eynikel from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s ‘Access’ campaign who talks to presenter Gráinne Ni Aodha about the issue of vaccine equity.

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Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

This episode was put together by presenters Michelle Hennessy and Gráinne Ní Aodha, and producers Aoife Barry and Nicky Ryan.

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