World Trade Organization (WTO) member states’ representatives are meeting today for a second day to discuss the suspension of intellectual property rights on products for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.
Despite repeated recommendations from international human rights mechanisms and the World Health Organization itself, a handful of rich countries and corporations continue to block the deconcentration of production. Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Japan and members of the European Union are repeating the arguments of the pharmaceutical industry and blocking negotiations, while the pandemic is raging in poor countries.
This weekend, intellectual property on pharmaceuticals will be on the agenda at the G7 Summit in the United Kingdom. It is urgent that world economic leaders recognize the priority of the health of millions of people over the profits of a small private sector. As a group of UN experts recalled today in a note to the G7, the extraordinary speed with which safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines were produced was not matched by swift action to ensure equity of access across countries and regions.
“Maximising production of safe vaccines must take precedence over profiting from a global pandemic,” they said. “States must ensure that legal protection for intellectual property and patents doesn’t undermine the right of everyone to get access to a safe, timely and effective vaccine.”
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