DENIAL OF VACCINE IP WAIVER SHOWS WORLD BANK AGAINST GLOBAL HEALTH
We are extremely appalled by the World Bank decision to oppose vaccine Intellectual Property (IP) waiver.
It is incomprehensible on why a waiver to be viewed as removing obstacles to ramping up the production of vaccines in developing countries.
The World Bank President David Malpass said on Tuesday ( 8th June 2021 ) in an interview with reporters , reported by Reuters, the bank does not support waiving intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization out of concern that it would hamper innovation in the pharmaceuticals sector.
We cannot accept thIs lame excuse that the waiver will hamper inovation.
Many health and pro people Ngos are pushing for the WTO negotiations over the proposed waiver at the Geneva meeting.
We express our position that a WTO vaccine IP waiver, at least to suspend it , is needed to expand vaccine access especially to poor countries.
It is a fact that World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on intellectual property (IP) , Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights ( TRIPS ) , limit poor countries’ access to critical medicines.
We register our support in favour of the waiver to boost the production of vaccines and other live-saving products.
In situation of a pandemic like Covid-19, IP protection, including twenty-year patents and safeguards for copyrights, trade secrets, and industrial designs are preventing companies other than the inventors from manufacturing critical medical products.
At the time of a health emergency situation , we notice how generous government funding that pharmaceutical companies received to support their development of COVID-19 vaccines.
We firmly view that the public is entitled to greater access even if that means fewer profits for companies.
We also take cognizance that even though governments still have the authority to impose compulsory licensing for other companies to produce patrnted products , but the process is too complicated and piecemeal. With the current critical pandemic upsurge , the world is racing against time.
Malpass reasoning is unacceptable. The risk of reducing the innovation and the R&D in that sector cannot be the argument when people’s lives are at stake. Access for countries to produce their own vaccines without hampered by vaccine IP controlled by giant phamaceutical companies is a denial of countries to safe lives of their own people.
Major vaccine makers and the pharmaceutical industries have opposed the waiver from the WTO’s agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), arguing that it would stifle innovation and do little to effectively increase vaccine supplies constrained by trade barriers, shortages of components and a lack of manufacturing capabilities.
The argument that waivering the IP will stifle innovation is a flawed argument. On the critical situation of a global pandemic that to date has killed more than 3.4 million people , what does waivering vaccine IP has to do with inovation.
This is not about waiting charity crumps from the rich to donate their excess vaccine doses to the developing world.
The G7 pledge to donate 1 billion covid vaccines is inadequate. Joe Biden’s annoucement of no string attach condition to US’s contribution is just to cover the big pharmaceutical companies to monoplise the vaccine production.
The World Bank top concern is only about global growth forecasts, if vaccinations can be accelerated in developing countries.
The bank seems only to be concern of economic growth while ignoring the Geneva negotiations over revised waiver proposals from India and South Africa .
We call for the waiver of the vaccine IP as a matter of protecting the lives of people and for global public health .The intellectual property rights of giant industries to impede other countries to produce vaccines is tantamount to anti life and anti health.
Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid
President Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization