Vaccine patents

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PAOV — “We truly are in this together. It’s time we get it and take action.” Having experienced the devastating situation in India first hand, petition starter Shilpashree is calling on world leaders to waive patents and intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines. Prime MInister Justin Trudeau has said Canada is participating in international discussions on intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, but has not provided any further details on the federal government’s position. You can help Shilpashree in this critical moment by adding your signature to the petition now.

#PeopleOverProfit: Waive Patents Over Vaccines

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We’ve all read and heard about how bad things have gotten in India, with over a million new cases in 3 days, even as vaccinations are on. Over 200,000 people have died, many of them in ambulances, and bodies are piling up in cremation and burial grounds. As someone who has been fighting for medicines and oxygen cylinders for friends and strangers, I am exhausted but giving up is just not an option.

If the devastating second wave in India isn’t contained fast, there’s no telling how catastrophic the effect will be for the world. Coronavirus is indiscriminate; it doesn’t recognise borders or nationalities.

Even though every person and country is weary from fighting the pandemic, with resources overstretched for months at end, now is not the time for to drop the COVID ball.

Not dropping the ball means ramping up the global vaccination drive to reach every last individual, every last mile. And for this to happen vaccination production needs to be scaled up drastically. The only way we have a chance of controlling the outbreak is by ensuring that 70% of the world’s population (about 5 billion people) is vaccinated in order to develop herd immunity.

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that developed countries have secured what they need. In less than a year of the pandemic, 8 vaccine candidates from around the world hit the market. Between them they can produce enough doses for just a third of the population.

The bad news is most low- and middle-income countries have not had any access to vaccines until now and going by the current capacity, it does not seem like they will anytime soon. The biggest challenge to this is patents and intellectual property rights (IPR)

India and South Africa had proposed to the World Trade Organisation in October last year to suspend the Covid-19 vaccine patents to facilitate prevention, containment and treatment. They argued that the IPR waiver would allow faster technology transfer and production of vaccines in the countries that have the production capacity. This would make the vaccine cheaper and affordable to the masses in a shorter time.

Sadly, governments in the United States, the European Union, Canada, etc have been opposing this proposal. They feel it will discourage the pharma companies by stripping away their profit incentive.

It’s time to demand that we collectively prioritise “People” over “Profit”. Now is when the phrase “we are all in this together” has never been more important.

I appeal to everyone reading this to sign this petition urging your country’s Prime Minister/President to agree to waiving the patents and IPRs on the COVID vaccines.

When millions of people rise up and demand cheaper vaccines for all, we have a greater chance of being heard by world leaders and pharma companies. Unless the world population is vaccinated, people in developed countries will remain under the threat of virus mutation.

We truly are in this together. It’s time we get it and take action.

Sign and share #PeopleOverProfits

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