170 Nobel laureates and former leaders write to Biden: let’s suspend vaccine patents
More than 170 Nobel laureates and former heads of state and government today sent an open letter to US President Joe Biden, inviting him to support the proposed suspension of the intellectual property rights granted to pharmaceutical companies on Covid-19 vaccines. with the aim of allowing access all over the world and thus being able to stop the pandemic.
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The initiative coordinated by the People’s Vaccine Alliance (Pva), of which Oxfam and Emergency are part, sees among the first signatories the former presidents of the Council Romano Prodi and Mario Monti, the former British premier Gordon Brown, the former president of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, the former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former president of France François Hollande and the Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Muhammad Yunus.
In the letter, they appeal to President Biden to use all the influence that the United States can exert globally, also given the contribution to the discovery of two of the vaccines available, to temporarily suspend the intellectual property of the pharmaceutical industry. boosting the production of vaccines that remain deficient around the world, especially in developing countries.”May this moment be remembered in history, as the one in which we put the health of all before the interests of a few”, write the signatories, inviting the United States to support the proposal put forward by the governments of South Africa and India to the World Organization of trade (WTO) that would make a worldwide mass vaccination campaign possible.
The appeal also points out that at the current pace of vaccine production, most poor nations will have to wait until 2024 to immunize their population. “President Biden said no one will be safe until we all are. Now, on the eve of the G7, the United States has the opportunity to show all the leadership it is capable of – said Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – The temporary suspension of the rules governing intellectual property within the ‘World Trade Organization, would make it possible to increase the supply of vaccines globally and to launch a shared financial plan to provide the poorest countries with the necessary doses. This seems to be the only strategic way forward not only for the United States, but for all the countries of the world ».
“Thanks to the Biden administration, the United States has made huge strides in the national vaccination campaign, yet this is simply not enough. The mutations of the virus will continue to make victims and disrupt our globalized and interconnected economy until everyone, in every part of the world, will not have access to an effective and safe vaccine – said Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics – Property intellectual is the biggest obstacle to the spread of vaccines. The United States, together with its allies, must support the proposed suspension of intellectual property made by India and South Africa, insist on the transfer of technologies and strategically invest in production ”.
Other signatories include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachev, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, Spanish Prime Minister José Zapatero, along with 60 other former heads of state and government from around the world.
The letter also asks that the renunciation of intellectual property rights be accompanied by the sharing of know-how and technologies and by global and coordinated investments in research, development and production capacity, especially at low income. Indeed, the current threat to global public health requires solutions that cannot and must not disregard global cooperation and solidarity.
The inequality of access to the vaccine has dramatic consequences in the economic field, underline the signatories, only for the USA it is estimated a loss of GDP of about 1,300 billion dollars (1,085 billion euros). Furthermore, if the virus continues to circulate, the risk of spreading new variants that could compromise the effectiveness obtained thanks to the vaccination campaign implemented so far increases.
As underlined by several reports released by the PVA, with the current system and at this rate only 10% of poor countries will have access to the vaccine next year. “At the moment we are leaving the management and evolution of this pandemic in the hands of the big pharmaceutical companies, but continuing to follow the path of monopolies will only lead to more victims and an increase in poverty – added the Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus – Only government action, not philanthropy and the private sector alone, can solve this unprecedented crisis. We therefore urge President Biden to take part in the challenge facing the whole world, ensuring that vaccines truly become a global public good, free from intellectual property protections and the logic of profit. ”