A group of 175 former international leaders and Nobel laureates, including former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, are calling on the United States to take “urgent action” to suspend the copyright on Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global vaccination rates.
A measure to allow countries to temporarily bypass Covid-related medical product patents was proposed by the World Trade Organization, India and South Africa in October and has since been supported by nearly 60 countries.
This would allow developing countries to make their own copies of vaccines developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for copyright infringement.
“This WTO rejection is a vital and necessary step in ending this pandemic. It must be combined with the protection of vaccine know-how and open technology exchange,” – said in a letter to US President Joe Biden, who signed the document, including more than 100 Nobel laureates and over 70 former world leaders.
They added that the withdrawal, when combined with other measures, “will expand global manufacturing capacity without being hampered by industry monopolies, leading to severe supply shortages that impede access to vaccines.”
While wealthier countries have access to doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and are expanding vaccination programs for their populations, developing countries have more limited access.
Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, François Hollande, former President of France, Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR, and Yves Leterme, former Prime Minister of Belgium.
Mr Hollande described the inequality in access to vaccines as “an unacceptable political and moral situation,” which is “economic nonsense.”
The signatories to the letter, including the Nobel Prize winners in economics and all arts and sciences, warned that unequal access to the vaccine will affect the global economy and prevent it from recovering.
“The world has witnessed an unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines thanks in large part to US government investment,” the group wrote. “We all applaud the fact that vaccines in the United States and in many richer countries bring hope to their citizens. However, for most people, the same hope has not yet arrived. Now all over the world new troubles are mounting. Our global economy cannot recover if it remains vulnerable to this virus. ”
Nobel laureate in finance Joseph Stiglitz told the FT that the already in force mandatory patent rule shows that the principles of patent termination have been accepted by the international community.
Source: Financial Times.