FORMER HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER and Irish President, Mary Robinson, a vocal advocate for a People’s Vaccine, has joined calls of 174 former world leaders and Nobel laureates for a patent waiver at the international level.
This was prompted by news that President Biden is considering supporting a proposal at the WTO that would temporarily suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents.
Mary Robinson asks European leaders “to put the collective right to safety for all ahead of everything else – and come together to end this pandemic.” This refers to Europe’s decision to block efforts led by South Africa and India and supported by over 100 countries to share the vaccine recipe.
Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has said: “it is not enough to find a vaccine. We must make sure that citizens around the world have access to it.” Europe now needs to walk the talk and stop prioritising pharma profit over people. It can do this by reconsidering its position at the WTO table, and instead back worldwide calls to share the vaccine recipe.
Oxfam, as part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, is calling for equal access to vaccines for everyone. It says this is the right thing to do, morally as well as politically. Choosing not to vaccinate poorer countries will deliver a hefty bill of approximately €7.2 trillion and a six per cent contraction of the EU economy. It also increases the risk of new mutations springing up. Women have also got the short end of the stick with many taking on disproportionately heavy loads of unpaid work, says Oxfam.
By backing the worldwide call to share the vaccine recipe, Europe will not only save millions of peoples’ lives in and outside Europe, but also mitigate the risk to our economies and the current backslide in workplace gender equality.
According to a recent survey, two-thirds of epidemiologists estimated in about a year, virus mutations will render the current vaccines ineffective and new or modified vaccines will be needed. Eighty eight per cent said that the low vaccine rollout in many countries increases the risk of vaccine-resistant mutations.
* Read the letter to President Biden from world leaders here.
* Source: Oxfam International