Covid-19 Vaccine

‘Suspend patent to allow faster production’

Staff Correspondent

14 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Health campaigners across the globe have called for suspension of patents to allow faster production of Covid-19 vaccines.

Public health groups from across the UK, the US and beyond will mobilise supporters to contact the switchboards, flood the inboxes and bombard the social media channels of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca today as part of a global day of action for a people’s vaccine.

Rich countries have secured enough doses of Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate their entire populations nearly 3 times over, while nearly 70 low-income countries only have enough for 1 in 10 of the populations in 2021, said a press release of Global Justice Now.

In response to this inequality campaigners are demanding pharmaceutical companies drop their monopolies over successful Covid-19 vaccines and instead share the intellectual property and know-how needed to allow affordable, generic global supplies by joining the WHO’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

The day of action follows opposition from high-income countries to a proposal by the governments of South Africa and India to suspend patents on all Covid-19 vaccines and treatments until the pandemic is brought under control. The proposal is still being debated at the World Trade Organisation with an expected decision early next year.

The day of action is backed by Global Justice Now, Just Treatment, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, Students for Global Health and STOPAIDS in the UK, HealthGap in the United States as well as Section 27 in South Africa and Access to Medicines in Ireland.

Global Justice Now said, “This is a chance for ordinary people around the world to stand up and demand a people’s vaccine, not a profit vaccine. We are calling on pharmaceutical companies to do the right thing: suspend their patents and share their know-how to allow as many manufacturers as possible to ramp up global production so there are enough doses for all countries.

In the face of this global health crisis, protecting patents will maximise profits but will cost lives.”

“Since this pandemic began, countries like the UK have repeatedly claimed to support equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines, yet as the vaccine rollout begins the UK has ordered enough doses to vaccinate its population several times over, while the vast majority of people in low-income countries have none. It seems that some are more equal than others. Distributing the vaccines according to need not wealth is not just fair - it’s also the quickest way to end the pandemic,” It added.

Diarmaid McDonald, Lead Organiser at Just Treatment, said “It is shameful that the UK has lined up with a host of other rich nations that all have access to supplies of the COVID vaccines in order to defeat a proposal - that would facilitate fair, global access for all - from countries with none.