“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating effect in countries already affected by development challenges and humanitarian crises, and it is hitting the furthest behind – those who have no prospect of getting a first vaccine dose anytime soon – the hardest. This global emergency can be addressed only if affordable and effective COVID-19 vaccine is made available in every corner of the world,” the letter begins.
Moved by the "clear moral decision" to "prioritize human lives over profit", the signatory organizations ask to approve the revised decision text IP/C/W/669/Rev.1, presented on 25 May, which introduces a derogation from the Agreement on the Commercial Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS, in English) for the benefit of the prevention, containment and treatment of Covid-19.
While giving credit to the EU authorities for the initiatives already undertaken to distribute vaccines to combat the pandemic - such as, for example, the COVAX program - the signatories reiterate that more vigorous solutions are needed.
“In light of the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect the EU to be ready to take extraordinary measures and to do everything in its power, to contribute to ending this public health emergency,” it states.
Citing data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the letter shows that in April 2021, the richest countries had received over 87% of the vaccines, while those with low income only 0.2%; and that according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, if current rates are maintained, most of the poorest countries in the world will have to wait until 2024 for mass immunization.
Currently, it continues, there are countries such as Bangladesh and India, with the capacity to produce additional anti-Covid-19 vaccines, but which are unable to do so due to lack of appropriate licenses.
“The sooner the world’s population is vaccinated, the sooner EU citizens are safe. Without global action, the health crisis and resulting socio-economic crisis here and worldwide will continue,” the letter continues with incisiveness.
“An opposition to the TRIPS waiver is, however, not only self-defeating, but leading to needless suffering and loss of life. People are dying and economies collapsing because of vaccine shortages.”
It also states, “With so many of the world’s poorer nations supporting this emergency waiver already, you can help maintain the EU’s moral and public health leadership in the world.... This is also the positioning of the European Parliament, as made clear in its Resolution of 10th June on meeting the global Covid-19 challenge, which the European Commission must take into account in future negotiations at the WTO.”
The appeal signed by the DBI concludes: “We urge you to push for Covid-19 vaccines - a social product - to benefit everyone, especially the furthest behind.”