SOS: the World Calls to Suspend #COVID19 Vaccine Patents to Save Millions of Lives
- G7 countries hoard enough vaccines to immunize their populations multiple times over, limiting vaccine access for low-income countries.
- Many countries, including Nigeria, Zambia, and Nicaragua, have only immunized a small fraction of their populations. Countries like Haiti, Syria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo do not report a single vaccination¹.
- Donations of vaccines from wealthy to low-income countries, while welcomed, are not enough – COVID-19 vaccine patents must be suspended, and technology must be shared to accelerate worldwide production and distribution.
Mexico City (June 10, 2021) The vast disparity between the number of immunizations in wealthy and poorer nations represents something equal to a crime against humanity, all but guaranteeing a death sentence for thousands, if not millions, of people in low-income countries. Yet, there are options available to the world to create enough vaccines to end the pandemic.
In our continued advocacy for global vaccine equity, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) calls on
members of the Group of Seven (G7) to stop guarding the interests of pharmaceutical companies and ‘Vaccinate Our World‘ by supporting the current proposal at the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property (IP) protections on all COVID-19 vaccines and technologies. By granting patent waivers, generic vaccine production can be increased worldwide instead of being primarily centered in the US, Europe, and China.
“This urgent call-to-action must be a priority and should be handled like a global S.O.S. The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) allows for the protection of the common good and overall global public health through the waiving of IP rights and is what saved the lives of millions of people living with HIV through the generic production of antiretroviral medicines. We must utilize those same past lessons learned to fight COVID-19 today,” said Dr. Patricia Campos, Bureau Chief for AHF Latin America and the Caribbean.
G7 countries have ordered enough vaccine doses to vaccinate their populations multiple times over, with European Union countries having secured 6.4 doses per person. However, Canada tops the list with 10.1 doses per person – and the UK and the US are not far behind with 7.7 and 3.7 doses per person, respectively, according to The Guardian².
“While we would welcome donations of surplus vaccines, it wouldn’t be enough to solve the severe lack of vaccine access across the globe. Experts predict that the world needs 11 billion vaccines, and donated surpluses are not even 10% of what is needed to end the pandemic. G7 leaders need to suspend COVID-19 vaccine patents immediately. It’s the only way to boost vaccine production and distribution and limit new, more contagious variants of the virus which can become resistant to vaccines and potentially kill millions more people,” added Guillermina Alaniz, Advocacy Director for AHF Latin America and the Caribbean.
Even though pharmaceutical companies argue they cannot give away their intellectual property, a tremendous amount of taxpayer funding has been invested in the development of most drugs, and COVID-19 vaccines are no exception. According to The Guardian, “At least 97% of the funding for the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been identified as coming from taxpayers or charitable trusts…and less than 2%…came from private industry.³”
In addition to waiving vaccine patents, the ‘VOW’ campaign urges other significant actions to ensure we can ‘Vaccinate Our World,’ including pushing nations with surplus vaccines to donate them to hard-hit countries and those with no access. Leaders of wealthy countries must also raise at least $100 billion to help ensure the production of at least 7 billion vaccines within one year. Additionally, international cooperation, not politics, needs to be significantly increased and should be the driving force for ending the pandemic, which must start by demanding that countries be 100% transparent and accountable.
The ‘Vaccinate Our World’ call-to-action kicked off in April with a multimedia advocacy campaign, virtual media events, and demonstrations (where able) in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the US. AHF invites everyone to join the movement by pledging at VaccinateOurWorld.org and sharing the following hashtags on your social media: #VaccinateOurWorld and #VOWnow; In Spanish: #VacunarNuestroMundo; Portuguese: #VacunaNossoMundo; French: #VaccinateNotreMonde
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.5 million clients in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Paciﬁc Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, ﬁnd us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare