Suspend Patent Rights on COVID-19 Vaccines so we can end this Pandemic
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We all know the toll COVID-19 has taken. The millions of lost lives, the lost livelihoods, the illness, the isolation, the educational loss for kids, and direct impacts on our way of life. We all know what an amazing feat it was that as of February, several vaccines were on the market that could beat this virus. However, getting people vaccinated has been a disaster. However, getting people vaccinated has been a disaster. Globally, we've given out approximately over 1.15 billion doses of the vaccine and about 3.5% of the world is fully vaccinated. One of the major reasons for this is we simply aren't producing enough of the vaccines. More worrying are new strains of the virus. As the virus continues to spread, it'll have more opportunities to mutate which will increase the chances that our newly developed vaccines will be less effective. It is a national shame that the United States is not doing more to help India when life has become an absolute nightmare for millions of people during their second outbreak.
It doesn't have to be this way. Other drug-makers could take part in the production of the vaccines IF they had the blueprints and especially if the vaccines were classified as generics. However, Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca and the U.S., and many other wealthy countries are preventing this. The drug companies are maintaining intellectual property rights on their vaccines even though they were fully funded and then some by taxpayer money for research and development and initial orders (Moderna received 2.5 billion in government funding). In late October of 2020, South Africa and India petitioned the World Trade Organization (WTO) to suspend some Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights on the vaccines so that they could be produced more freely. This was supported by 100 other WTO members, but unfortunately, the United States and 17 other wealthy countries blocked this effort.
This petition calls on the CEOs of Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca to make their vaccines generic and to take any and all steps to assist in the widespread development of their vaccines. It also calls on the U.S. Government to support India and South Africa's proposal to the WTO (IP/C/W/669) to waive parts of Trade-Related Intellectual Property rights (TRIPs) so that the world could more effectively produce the COVID-19 Vaccines.
Especially, when these drugs were already developed at the expense of tax-payers, and when considering what is at state for all of us, we need to get our global community vaccinated quickly and put profits aside. If this virus has taught us anything, it's that we're all in this together. And governments and pharmaceutical giants need to heed this lesson.
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