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COVID-19.- International call on President Biden for a waiver on intellectual property rules on vaccines

Over 170 former heads of state and government and Nobel laureates, called on President Biden to support a waiver of intellectual property rules for COVID-19 vaccines and pursue a people’s vaccine to end the pandemic in an open letter sent today.

Joe Biden taking oath as president ofthe USA
Joe Biden taking oath as 46th President of the United States of America. on 20th January 2021.
Image caption from the Inaugural Ceremony official video on You Tube. © Joint Congresional Commiteee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

The letter specifically asks President Biden to support a proposal from the South African and Indian governments at the World Trade Organization (WTO), to temporarily waive intellectual property rules related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments so as to allow for generic manufacturing around the world, warning that, at the current pace of vaccinations, most poor nations will be left waiting until at least 2024 to achieve mass COVID-19 immunization.

The letter was sent to the White House as U.S. health authorities advised a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. A waiver of intellectual property rules would allow for a scale up in manufacturing in the U.S. and around the world, overcoming artificial supply constraints.

Not only an intellectual property waiver, but also sharing know how and investment

The leaders also called for the intellectual property waiver to be accompanied by the open sharing of vaccine know-how and technology, and by coordinated global investment in research, development, and manufacturing capacity, underscoring that threats to public health are global, and that strategic government investment, action, global cooperation, and solidarity are vital.

Vacuna Covid 19_AstraZeneca_oficial de la empresa_RRSS
AstraZeneca vaccines. © AstraZeneca

These actions would expand global manufacturing capacity, unhindered by industry monopolies that are driving the dire supply shortages blocking vaccine access. Given artificial global supply shortages, the leaders warned that the US economy already risks losing $1.3 trillion in GDP this year because of vaccine inequity, and if the virus is left to roam the world, and even if vaccinated, people in the U.S. would continue to be exposed to new viral variants.

Just a 10 % of people in the majority of poor countries will be vaccinated in the next year

This international action warned that at the current global immunization rate, it was likely that only 10% of people in the majority of poor countries will be vaccinated in the next year.

The former Prime Ministers and Presidents and Nobel Laureates encourage President Biden to take the urgent action, only he can, for this moment to “be remembered in history as the time we chose to put the collective right to safety for all ahead of the commercial monopolies of the few.”

WHO calls for equitable access to future COVID-19 vaccines in Africa_1600 pix
WHO calls for equitable access to future COVID-19 vaccines in Africa and launches COVAX initiative. UN WHO.

“President Biden has said that no one is safe until everyone is safe, and now with the G7 ahead there is an unparalleled opportunity to provide the leadership that only the U.S. can provide and that hastens an end to the pandemic for the world,” said Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Member of Club de Madrid. “An urgent temporary waiver of intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organization would help us ramp up global supply of vaccines together with a global multi-year burden sharing plan to finance vaccines for the poorest countries. This would be in the strategic interests of the U.S., and of every country on the planet”.

An action coordinated by by the People’s Vaccine Alliance

Signatories include former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, former President of France François Holland, former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and former President of Malawi Joyce Banda, all Members of Club de Madrid, together with over 60 other former heads of state and government that span every continent. Nobel Laureates Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Professor Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Professor Muhammad Yunus are also part of the call to Biden.

The letter was coordinated by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of more than 50 organizations including Club de Madrid, the Yunus Centre, Oxfam, Health GAP, UNAIDS, Physicians for Human Rights, the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, Global Justice Now, and Avaaz.

Image over the headline.- Janssen vaccines. © Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Johnson & Johnson)

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To read the whole letter, click here

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