Rich nations are vaccinating one person every second while the majority of the poorest nations have yet to give a single dose, the People’s Vaccine Alliance said Tuesday.
These same rich nations are blocking efforts by developing countries to waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines, the group said. The World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) committee meets Wednesday to discuss the TRIPS waiver.
“We should act now. There is no going back. It is totally unfair that rich countries, who have enough vaccines to protect their citizens, are blocking the TRIPS waiver, which could help poorer countries get the vaccines they need,” said Muhammad Yunus, Nobel laureate professor, and one of the leaders of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. “For the rich world, this proposed act of human solidarity to ensure that medicines and vaccines get to the whole human family simultaneously is in their own self-interest, not just an act of charity.”
The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a group of organizations including Oxfam International, Frontline AIDS, UNAIDS, and others, said that this is yet another example of rich countries prioritizing the interests of big pharmaceutical monopolies over people’s lives.
“By allowing a small group of pharmaceutical companies to decide who lives and who dies, rich nations are prolonging this unprecedented global health emergency and putting countless more lives on the line,” said Gabriela Bucher, Oxfam International's executive director. “At this crucial time, developing countries need support – not opposition.”
The proposed TRIPS waiver would remove legal barriers and allow manufacturers across the world to start producing vaccines at scale within months, the group said.
“One year into the global pandemic, it’s an outrage that vaccine factories are lying idle, unable to produce Covid-19 vaccines because rich countries are prioritizing the patents of pharmaceutical companies ahead of the lives of people across the world,” said Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. “A global suspension of patents is needed to speed up the production of these vaccines everywhere.”