Letters to the editor: Vaccine a privilege that many don't have

It doesn’t make any sense not to vaccinate the globe, as otherwise we will have to live with ongoing disruptions
Letters to the editor: Vaccine a privilege that many don't have

People queue at the vaccination centre at the Cork City Hall. Picture Dan Linehan

Kathy Sheridan’s article in the Irish Times on December 1 hit the nail on the head with her piece regarding complaints about vaccine queues being a sad reflection on the entitled, negative public. There are people in other countries who wish they had the same opportunity to protect themselves from Covid-19.

The distribution of vaccines is about the Global North v the Global South. It is about inequality. It is about rich countries hoarding vaccines while countries in the south suffer.

It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever not to vaccinate the globe, as otherwise we will have to live like this with ongoing disruptions, challenges and stress. It is like what we did with the HIV pandemic – Africa got the ARVs last and was at least 10 years behind the Global North. As a result, children lost their parents, families were decimated and we are still picking up the pieces.

But in Africa, it is not just about the vaccines, it is about the logistics of delivering the vaccines too - they don’t have the opportunity to complain about waiting in line for a vaccine as often there is no queue available to them. The vaccines are in limited supply in the Global South whilst they expire unused in the Global North.

The impact of Covid-19 across communities in Kenya has been devastating. There are no subsidies; no support. Today is about the survival of the families Brighter Communities Worldwide work with, in Kenya where Covid-19 is far from over and the pandemic has had a devastating effect across the region. This is about children missing school and returning to the fields to work. This is about young pregnant girls facing a challenging future; this is about the breadwinners being unable to work who have no government support.

We have the opportunity to act in solidarity across the world. No one is safe until we are all safe.

Maria Kidney

Co-Founder, Brighter Communities Worldwide Cork

I hope Ireland stays anti-nuclear

I wish to respond to Patrick L O’Brien’s letter “Energy: We must revisit nuclear option” ( Irish Examiner, December 4). Personally I find this idea appalling. Yes there is currently a surge in prices and people’s bills as gas prices have shot up around the world. However, I believe the focus on this letter is in the wrong place.

To refute Patrick’s claim that renewable investment has “little or nothing to show for it”, just check the Irish Examiner from  two weeks ago , “Some 43% of electricity came from renewables over 2020, and it has the capability of reaching 75% on the system at a given time” (Prof Andrew Keane, November 21). So clearly we are rapidly improving our renewable energy generation capacity, meaning we are less exposed to energy shocks than we otherwise would have been and have greater energy independence.

However, we need to couple increasing renewables with a serious examination of the ‘what, who and how’ of energy consumption in Ireland. We recently found out data centres consume a large amount of our energy and water resources. Industry, offices, refrigeration, etc. all consume vast quantities of energy also. Instead of consistently increasing our capacity to provide greater energy output, we should instead be looking at where we can reduce consumption or improve efficiency.

For decades, Ireland has been proudly anti-nuclear and I hope this continues for the coming decades. Nuclear plants might produce less overall greenhouse gas emissions, but they are very costly to construct and maintain, whilst also producing radioactive waste. The best solution we have come up with in the past 70 years of producing nuclear waste, is to bury it deep in the ground. Also, small modular reactors (SMRs) are a largely theoretical concept, with currently only one prototype operating in Russia since 2019. However, these SMRs will not be able to achieve economies of scale, will still require large exclusion zones, high input costs, produce radioactive waste, continue to be a serious security risk, etc.

We are currently living through the sixth mass extinction event of this planet, but the first one that is a direct result of human activity. We need to seriously look at ways of reducing our impact on the earth, instead of trying to maintain our current lifestyles with activities that are increasingly harming the Earth and the people on it.

Ben Ryan

Brussels

Belgium

Caught, hook, line and sinker by EU

Every other European national government has done everything possible to protect their fishing sectors during the Brexit discussion — this Government has done the opposite. They accepted a sellout as they did in the early 1970s when we joined the EEC and had our fishing grounds reduced from 50 nautical miles to 12 miles. We must be the laughing stock of Europe.

Since assuming office the Government has crucified our fishing industry, which employs 16,000, through massive fish quotas, costing our fishermen dearly. The Sea-Fisheries (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill is unfair and unreasonable and reduces fishing rights under the law with the penalty points system.

Furthermore all these measures were introduced at the behest of non-elected bureaucrats in Brussels. Now with the huge increase in fuel the boats will be tied up on the quays for many months of the year.

Noel Harrington

Kinsale

Co Cork

The late great Seanie O'Leary in action for the Cork hurlers in 1984. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland
The late great Seanie O'Leary in action for the Cork hurlers in 1984. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

One of the goalden greats of hurling

I am sure all hurling followers were all so sad to hear of the death of the great Seanie O’Leary.

His hurling prowess down through the years inspired me to write a song about him. One of the verses about the Munster final game against Tipperary goes as follows:

“Now the Tipperary hurlers said ’84 was their year

There was no team in Ireland that they did fear

But along came the Rebels and beat them handily

Sure ’twas a goal ’fore full time by the great Seán O’Leary.”

He will go down as one of the all-time greats of hurling and a goal poacher supreme.

John Flavin

Carrigrohane

Cork

Keep calm, keep Christmas low key

Eighteen months ago I predicted that effective Covid vaccines would materialise quickly. So did others. The virus genome was completely sequenced in 10 days — and the data was made open access worldwide before close of business on the day it was sequenced. Several vaccines materialised with a rigour and pace that is unprecedented in human history.

We can argue about whether “we are in this together” — and this is a meaningful political and sociological discussion. But one thing’s for sure The global scientific community is “in this together”. A man/woman was put on the immunological moon in the development of the initial vaccines because a man/woman simply had to be put on the immunological moon. Needs must when the devil drives. There may be a few viral devils but there are eight billion of us. For all our flaws, we are ingenious. Humiliated and occasionally incarcerated recently, to be sure, but I have faith in my fellow humans. I am marginally above average. I find great comfort in that.

The R number is coming down faster than I expected. Our scientists are busy. Our politicians have their fingers in the dam. This too will pass. Back in 1918 influenza kept killing us until it got worn out killing us. Some 50m people died. More than the number that died in the hecatomb of the Great War that preceded that pandemic. This time, it’s different, of that I am confident. Keep calm. Keep the faith. Keep washing the hands and carry on. Keep Christmas low key.

Michael Deasy

Bandon

Co Cork

Government management of Covid going well

Jim O’Sullivan in his letter criticises the Irish Government’s management of the Covid pandemic. The following are some surprising figures which, if correct, do not support his criticism.

Published figures say that the death rate from Covid in Ireland at the moment is the fifth lowest of 28 comparable European countries — 27 EU countries plus the UK.

At the same time published figures show that the number of employees in Irish hospitals has increased by over 23,000 since the year 2000.

In the last two decades the number of general practitioners in Ireland has more than doubled.

The authorities have over the years presided over an increase in the size of the health service, and their management of Covid has had results which compare very well with those of the other member countries of the EU.

A Leavy

Sutton

Dublin 13

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