Calling on Canada to support the TRIPS waiver to end the pandemic
This petition had 87 supporters
Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, and Ambassador of Canada to the World Trade Organization Stephen de Boer,
When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the expectation was that countries would work collectively to develop therapeutics and distribute them equitably across the world. A year later, following the development of several effective publicly-funded vaccines, such cooperation has not come to fruition. Notwithstanding the COVAX initiative’s promise of shared access to vaccines, as of early February only 4% of total vaccinations had been administered in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Moreover, an estimated 9 out of 10 people in the lowest income countries will have to wait until 2022 or later to be vaccinated. Meanwhile, most wealthy nations have invested in private deals, pushing them to the head of the vaccine distribution line. Shamefully, Canada has the world’s worst record, having secured enough doses to vaccinate the population five times over while still accepting COVAX supplies before dozens of LMICs. Such hoarding of vaccines by wealthy countries is an affront to human rights and will delay and deviate global efforts to recover from the pandemic.
This situation can still be rectified through the TRIPS waiver currently before the WTO. The Canadian government must urgently join South Africa, India, and over 100 other WTO member countries to ensure its approval. The proposal calls for the temporary suspension of patent protections for COVID-19 products until worldwide immunity is attained. This will enable all countries with vaccine plants to manufacture and widely distribute COVID-19 vaccines without fear of WTO sanctions. This provision is consistent with WTO rules issued in 2001, arising from a prior mobilization to ensure fair access to AIDS medicines in the face of pharmaceutical profiteering. These rules allow for patent suspension in the context of public health emergencies—precisely the current pandemic situation.
Continued opposition to the TRIPS waiver from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Norway, Australia, and other wealthy countries will result in unnecessary loss of life and health, particularly jeopardizing low-income countries, while affecting everyone everywhere. Unless we are all vaccinated, we all lose and will not make collective gains against the pandemic.
We call on the Canadian government to take leadership on this issue and immediately support the TRIPS waiver proposal championed by South Africa and India in time for the WTO’s March 1, 2021 meeting. The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis: now more than ever, Canada must show that it is a global player that stands in solidarity with the world in support of health equity and human rights.
Signatures will be accepted through February 26, 2021
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