Former President and UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson has called for "political pressure" in support of an international campaign for intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines to be waived, so that production can be increased across the globe.

Mrs Robinson was speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime programme after joining more than 150 heads of state and Nobel laureates in signing an open letter to US President Joe Biden, calling for the patents to be waived.

The Chair of the Elders said a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver is required to address the "inequity and unfairness in access to vaccines in our world".

Such a waiver previously happened when the world had to deal with HIV, she said.

She also called for support for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access pool, as well as financial support to ensure mass vaccination.

It would be 'good to hear more vocal support' from Ireland, Mrs Robinson said

"It doesn’t make sense if we don't ensure that every country has access to vaccines," she said.

She added: "The experts are very clear, even if one country does not have access to vaccines, it will not guarantee that the rest of the world will be safe, simply because you'll have variants that we are actually seeing."

Mrs Robinson said more political pressure is required from all countries, but she particularly welcomed the news that US President Joe Biden is considering supporting a temporary waiver of the specific intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies, "because of the urgency of ensuring access through COVAX to get vaccines to developing countries."

"This is a global collective problem for humanity. And we have to be sensible and very clear about how to come out of this in a way that secures the future for all."

Mrs Robinson said it would be "good to hear more vocal support" from Ireland on this issue.

"I think it would be good to hear Ireland's voice on this. We are a member of the Security Council, we've been leading on other issues, I have been very proud of Ireland's huge work in the Security Council to get a statement from the Security Council on Tigray.

"Similarly, I think it'll be good to hear more vocal support for the need for a waiver, the need also for the vaccine know how technology and, that that be shared openly."