MEP Chris MacManus (R) and former Cavan-Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó’Caoláin.

Former TD calls for vaccine equality

Former Cavan-Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó’Caoláin has visited Brussels as part of a campaign calling for vaccine equality in the fight against COVID-19.

He met with Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus in a bid to ramp up the campaign for global vaccine equality.

He’s part of the group calling for the protection of patents on Covid vaccines to be dropped to allow mass production of the jabs. Campaigners say this would allow the faster distribution of vaccines to poorer countries.

MEP Chris MacManus said after the meeting that “a global pandemic requires a global solution. The EU is not doing enough to quell the spread of Covid. Patent protection must be dropped so countries across the globe can access safe and effective vaccines and treatments”.

The European Citizens’ Initiative has representation from across the continent, with an online petition so far garnering just under 245,000 signatures. At the time of writing, 8,512 people from Ireland had signed, prompting a push from Chris MacManus.

“Ireland is now approaching our target signature figure. We need less than 1,000 signatures to meet our initial objective. So I’m calling on the people of Monaghan and Cavan for one last push.”

The emergence of the Omnicron variant of COVID-19 in southern Africa in recent weeks has been highlighted by campaigners as a reason to push for vaccine equality.

They have criticised the hoarding of jabs by richer, western countries meaning few poorer countries have been able to vaccinate large sections of their populations.

Former Cavan-Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin was one of the organisers of the European Citizens’ Initiative, which launched last year.