- G7 governments continue to refuse to relinquish intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccines, despite widespread public support
- The People’s Vaccine Alliance calls on G7 leaders to support a patent waiver for vaccines at Foreign and Development Ministers meeting in London this day.
In the G7 countries, a very large majority of people believe that governments should do what is necessary for pharmaceutical companies to share the formulations and technology of their vaccines, according to a new poll from the People’s Vaccine Alliance.
The general public believes that pharmaceutical companies should be properly remunerated for vaccine development, but that they should be prevented from having a monopoly on vaccines.
The call comes as the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers meet in London for the first time face-to-face in two years, as the General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) meets today by videoconference , and that the death toll in India is increasing.
In the G7 countries, an average of 70% of the population wants the government to ensure that vaccine know-how is shared, according to a study by the People’s Vaccine Alliance. Support for government intervention is strongest in Italy (82% of people in favor), with Canada coming in second (76% of people in favor).
In the UK, 74% of those polled want the government to prevent monopolies of large pharmaceutical companies, although Prime Minister Boris Johnson attributed the success of the vaccination campaign in the country to “greed” and “capitalism”.
British public support for government intervention transcends political divides, with 73% of Tories, 83% of Labor and 79% of Liberal Democrats in favor, as well as 83% of those polled. who voted against Brexit and 72% of those who voted for Brexit in the referendum on membership of the European Union (EU).
In the United States, where President Joe Biden has Express its “hope” and its “expectation” to see shared vaccine know-how, 69% of the population is in favor of such a measure, including 89% of those who voted for Joe Biden and 65% of those who voted for Donald Trump in 2020. In Japan, 58% of the population wants a similar decision.
Residents of EU member states are also very supportive, with support reaching 70% in Germany and 63% in France.
Heidi Chow, Senior Campaigns and Policy Officer at Global Justice Now, said:
“People don’t want the pharmaceutical industry to hold monopolies on vaccines that have been developed largely with public funds. These vaccines are a global public good that must be accessible to everyone, everywhere. For the people of the G7 countries, it is obvious, but politicians are ostrich, while people are dying around them. “
Despite this broad support for sharing vaccine know-how, G7 governments continue to support pharmaceutical group monopolies on COVID-19 vaccines.
More than 100 countries, led by India and South Africa, have spoken in favor of temporarily lifting intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines at the WTO, but the proposal has been blocked by countries such as the US, UK, Japan and Canada, as well as the EU. Joe Biden’s government has confirmed that it is re-examining U.S. opposition to the tariff lifting.
Pharmaceutical groups have so far refused to share their vaccine expertise with the rest of the world. None of the companies that have developed an effective vaccine have joined the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Group (C-TAP), which was created to pool related projects. vaccines and treatments.
Saoirse Fitzpatrick, Advocacy Manager at STOPAIDS, said:
“The dramatic situation in India should shake the leaders of the G7. It is now inappropriate to defend intellectual property rules from an ideological point of view. Bilateral agreements with pharmaceutical groups do not work. Governments must step in and force the pharmaceutical industry to share its patents and vaccine know-how with the rest of the world. “
The UK, which currently holds the G7 presidency, has proposed a Pandemic Preparedness Plan which is due to be debated by ministers this week, and which does not address the issue of monopolies and intellectual property. Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer are part of the team developing the proposal, but developing country governments and vaccine producers have not been invited to participate.
Steve Cockburn, Director of Amnesty International’s Economic and Social Justice Program, said:
“G7 governments have clear human rights obligations: they must put the lives of millions of people around the world ahead of the interests of the pharmaceutical companies they have funded. To continue to block the sharing of clean technologies to save lives would be a serious failure of the leaders, and would only prolong the immense suffering caused by this pandemic. “
Last month, 175 former world leaders and Nobel Prize winners, including Gordon Brown, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Francois Hollande, wrote to President Joe Biden to express their support for the temporary lifting of intellectual property rights on vaccines. against COVID-19.
150 religious leaders, including Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, and Peter Turkson, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, called on G7 leaders to consider vaccines against COVID-19 as a “global common good”.
Anna Mariott Director of Policy at Oxfam said:
“People are dying by the thousands in low- and middle-income countries, while rich countries walk past others in the queue for vaccines. G7 leaders must face reality. We don’t have enough vaccines for everyone, and the biggest obstacle to increasing the supply is that a handful of profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies retain the right to produce them under seal. It’s time to lift intellectual property rules, speed up production, and put people’s lives before profits. It’s time for a universal vaccine. “
Two-thirds of world-renowned epidemiologists interviewed for a survey warned that the continued spread of the virus could allow vaccine-resistant strains of COVID-19 to render current vaccines ineffective within a year. The Independent SAGE group, which provides independent public health advice in the UK, has requested a patent waiver to address supply issues.
Moderna, Pfizer / BioNtech, Johnson & Johnson, Novovax and Oxford / AstraZeneca have received billions of dollars in government funding and guaranteed pre-orders, including $ 12 billion from the US government alone. It is estimated that 97% of funding for the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine came from public sources.
Companies paid a total of $ 26 billion in dividends and share buybacks to their shareholders this year, enough to immunize at least 1.3 billion people, the equivalent of Africa’s population.