In response to today’s announcement that the US Trade Representative is supporting waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, Diana Sarosi, Oxfam Canada’s Director of Policy and Campaigns said the following:
Canada could have taken international leadership to fight vaccine inequality by supporting the TRIPS waiver but instead has chosen to sit on the sidelines while the US stood up to support the world’s most vulnerable. Canada cannot continue to be idle in the fight to waive intellectual property rights while the rest of the world is working to end this global crisis.
The U.S. administration’s support of the TRIPS waiver recognizes that big pharma should not have complete control over life-saving vaccines during a pandemic. This is also a testament to the widespread public movement calling for an end to vaccine monopolies.
We are at a crucial inflexion point in the fight against the coronavirus, yet we have remained essentially at the mercy of a handful of giant pharmaceutical corporations that have monopoly control over the life-saving technologies we all need.
Oxfam Canada and the Peoples Vaccine Alliance have been pushing this issue and Prime Minister Trudeau needs to get behind this waiver. This will ensure the ramping up of vaccine supplies allowing everyone who needs a vaccine to get one.
Loosening the monopoly grip that pharmaceutical companies have on these life-saving vaccines is an essential step toward increased manufacturing that would lead to worldwide immunization, helping Canada and everyone else. We will continue to look to our government for leadership in a strong WTO outcome, in urgently insisting on the transfer of technologies through the World Health Organization Covid-19 Technology Access pool, and in investing strategically to build up regional vaccine hubs to defeat this and future pandemics.
The horrific situation in India is a warning to all of us that if we don’t move urgently to share the vaccine technology and scale up manufacturing so everyone, everywhere can have access to these lifesaving vaccines, we will never get the upper hand on COVID anywhere.
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