People’s Vaccine Alliance lauds US decision to break open Covid-19 monopolies and urges others to follow US lead

Published: 6th May 2021

The United States government last night moved to support a waiver of intellectual property protections of the Covid-19 vaccine. The People’s Vaccine Alliance has been campaigning to suspend Covid-19 intellectual property protections and has this reaction:

This is the decision the world needed: by backing a waiver of intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines the Biden Administration can increase the global supply of vaccines and deal a death blow to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In doing so, the Administration has shown it can listen to the voices of over 100 countries, the World Health Organization, former leaders, public health experts, Nobel Laureates and activists around the world - and countered the shameful behavior of big pharmaceutical monopolies which are placing profits over the right to health of billions of people.

While a bold step towards a people's vaccine, this is a first step. The Administration must combine its support of a waiver of intellectual property rules with urgently insisting on the transfer of technologies through the World Health Organization Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, and invest strategically in manufacturing across the developing world. They must ensure the waiver applies not just to vaccines, but to all Covid-19 related technologies.

And the U.S. Administration of President Biden must resist the intense pressure it will now face by the pharmaceutical industry to water down agreements at the World Trade Organization - and he must ensure that negotiating texts are made transparent and public. By backing the waiver President Biden has shown he can take courageous action for the world - now he must pull out all the stops to deliver a People's Vaccine.

“This bold decision by President Biden feels like the emergence of light at the end of a long dark tunnel for India and the world. India is the pharmacy of the world but it has been gasping for breath - choked by big pharmaceutical corporations monopolies”.

Amitabh Behar, Oxfam India Executive Director

Other leaders of rich nations who have so far been blocking a TRIPS waiver - including President Ursula von der Leyen, Chancellor Merkel, President Macron and Prime Minister Johnson - must follow the U.S., and together urgently deliver safe and effective vaccines to the world. Since the U.S. announcement, President von der Leyen has signalled that the EU is ready to discuss waiving patents, but it is time to move forward from protracted discussions and act now to prevent millions from dying.

UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said:

“President Biden has provided the decisive leadership the world desperately needs to defeat today's vaccine injustice and end the pandemic. We in the HIV community stand with him and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai against pharma industry monopolies which are placing profits before humanity's right to health and global recovery”.

“We have the necessary momentum and mechanisms to now deliver a people's vaccine for the world. The rest of the G7 and the European Union must urgently follow President Biden - and join over 100 countries around the world in supporting a suspension of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization”.

“And we need every rich country to line up behind the World Health Organization's Covid-19 Technology Access Pool to share vaccine technologies and know-how with other qualified producers - and finance the production of safe and effective vaccines across the developing world. That is how we can make the billions of doses the world needs to end this pandemic.”

Oxfam India Executive Director Amitabh Behar said:

“This bold decision by President Biden feels like the emergence of light at the end of a long dark tunnel for India and the world. India is the pharmacy of the world but it has been gasping for breath - choked by big pharmaceutical corporations monopolies”.

“Now we can begin to see the possibility of a breakthrough that must finally unlock the potential of vaccine production across the developing world. Pre-qualified manufacturers are ready to swing into production mode and start making hundreds of millions doses, available to all for free. But for that to be possible we need the European Union and every rich country still blocking a waiver on intellectual property rules to join President Biden and over 100 countries and offer hope for India and many other countries that we are indeed not being left behind.”

Notes to editors

The People’s Vaccine Alliance is a movement of health, humanitarian and human rights organisations, past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders and economists advocating that Covid 19 vaccines are manufactured rapidly and at scale, as global common goods, free of intellectual property protections and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge.

Contact information

Sarah Dransfield in the UK | | +44 (0)7884 114825
Matt Grainger in the UK | | +44 (0) 7730680837

For more updates follow us at @Oxfam