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A group of more than 170 former world leaders and Nobel Laureates has called upon US President Joe Biden to waive IP rights for COVID vaccines, in an open letter posted yesterday.
The letter, posted by the People’s Vaccine Alliance on Wednesday, April 14, called the president to back the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) waiver for COVID-19 vaccines.
Among the co-signers are former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, and François Hollande, former president of France.
This is the latest in an international push demanding the World Trade Organisation (WTO) temporarily waive intellectual property rights to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the world.
Many low and middle-income countries have seen very slow progress in inoculating their populace in light of unfavourable deals and vaccine rollouts.
“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the letter reads.
The open letter also supports the sharing of vaccine technology through the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool—a move that Biden’s chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has also called for.
“These actions would expand global manufacturing capacity, unhindered by industry monopolies that are driving the dire supply shortages blocking vaccine access. Nine in ten people in most poor countries may well go without a vaccine this year.
“At this pace, many nations will be left waiting until at least 2024 to achieve mass COVID-19 immunization.”
The letter calls for an increased global investment into research, development, and manufacturing capacity to tackle the pandemic and better prepare for future ones.
“The market cannot adequately meet these challenges, and neither can narrow nationalism,” the letter claims.
Citing the risk of the US losing almost $1.3 trillion in GDP in 2021, the co-signers claim that full IP and monopoly protection will “negatively impact efforts to vaccinate the world and be self-defeating for the US”.
“Please take the urgent action that only you can, and let this moment 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,” the letter concludes.
Recently, a ranking member of the US Senate IP subcommittee, Senator Thom Tillis, called upon Biden to reject the WTO waiver, calling the proposals ‘harmful’.
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President Biden, UK, US, Anthony Fauci, Thom Tillis, WTO, TRIPS, COVID-19