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[Video] Health for All! Demand a waiver on patents!
by Eric Toussaint , Frank Prouhet , Aude Martenot , Eliane Mandine
29 October 2021

Since the pandemic began, more than 240 million cases and nearly 5 million deaths from Covid have been officially reported. Aside from the different measures taken to slow the spread of the pandemic, the majority of countries have launched vaccination campaigns for their populations. Covid shows once more how unequal we are in the face of illness, depending on social class, gender, and whether we live in a country of the North or the South. While more than 60% of people in North America and Western Europe have been vaccinated, only 2.1% of people in the 27 low income countries have received one dose of the vaccine against Covid.

Mechanisms such as COVAX were set up with the declared objective of ensuring equitable access to vaccination for all countries but they have proven ineffective. Above all, they reveal the hypocrisy of powerful actors and international institutions, which in spite of their fine speeches, have failed to meet their commitments. Angela Merkel in Germany, Emmanuel Macron in France, Ursula von der Leyen for the European Commission, and Joe Biden in the USA, all committed to vaccines against Covid as a public good and therefore, to a waiver on patents, at least temporarily.

To date, we see the exact opposite. Research and production of vaccines have been funded almost entirely by the public. In collaboration with international institutions, western governments have overwhelmingly financed big pharmaceutical companies and given them carte blanche to make juicy profits, sometimes through mechanisms of tax evasion. This has been to the detriment of people’s health, of public goods, and has resulted in an enormous increase in the public debt, which, as the people know only too well, will be accompanied by the harmful effects of austerity.

On 13 and 14 October last, the TRIPS Council, watchdog of intellectual property, met at the WTO in Geneva to discuss a temporary waiver on patents, without success to no one’s surprise. At the end of this month, the question will be raised again at the G20 in Rome. At the end of November, it will be on the agenda again at a new meeting of the WTO, in the presence of ministers.

Let’s take the opportunity offered by these various summits, to further mobilize and force a change in the governments and powerful actors in favour of a waiver on patents.

To discuss:

* Chee Yoke Ling was unable to attend the conference.

Eric Toussaint

is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France.
He is the author of Greece 2015: there was an alternative. London: Resistance Books / IIRE / CADTM, 2020 , Debt System (Haymarket books, Chicago, 2019), Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012, etc.
See his bibliography:
He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. He was the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt from April 2015 to November 2015.

Frank Prouhet

Collectif Brevets sur les vaccins anti-covid, stop ! Réquisition

Aude Martenot

, is a member of the CSSR (Centrale Sanitaire Suisse Romande)

Eliane Mandine

Collectif Brevets sur les vaccins anti-covid, stop ! Réquisition