Waive Big Pharma
Trade Agreement Monopolies on
COVID Vaccines, Treatments
To end the pandemic, the world needs more vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments now. That’s why we need an emergency waiver of Big Pharma monopolies now imposed by trade agreements that empower a few pharmaceutical corporations to decide how much and where vital COVID-19 medicines will be made and sold.
Anyone in the United States who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can get one. But most people in low-income countries have not had their first shot with less than 20% fully vaccinated. In addition to causing avoidable deaths and economic devastation, the shortage of COVID medications in developing countries means raging outbreaks that allow the virus to mutate into new variants.
Mass outbreaks anywhere mean new COVID-19 variants will develop. The pandemic will never end until vaccines, treatments and tests are widely available around the world. We know there is no end to COVID’s public health disaster and resulting economic crises unless people everywhere are vaccinated because we have lived through the Delta and then Omicron variants that fueled new waves of infection and death around the globe.
Governments gave billions of our tax dollars to a few pharmaceutical giants to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. They have used intellectual property monopolies to limit production and access. And have made tens of billions in windfall profits on COVID-19. Now they are creating second-generation vaccines designed to stop infection from more recent variants. If the world restarts the race between vaccines and variants with a few corporations controlling production and access, we know what will happen: With most people in poor nations unable to get the best vaccines, new variants will develop, which could be more lethal, and the pandemic will continue endlessly.
More than 120 countries, including the United States, support an emergency COVID-19 waiver of World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) rules. A temporary “TRIPS waiver” is critical so the needed supplies of COVID vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests can be produced in as many places as possible and as quickly as possible. But 15 months after it was initially proposed, the waiver is being blocked by three WTO members: the European Union, led by Germany, plus Switzerland and the UK. And a text recently submitted to the WTO reflects the European pro-pharma position. It does not waive intellectual property barriers and instead add