WARNING ISSUED AGAINST ‘PATENT FOR PROFIT’ RISK TO DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has co-signed a cross-party letter calling for the UK government to ensure equitable access to any COVID-19 vaccine.
The letter has been signed by MPs and Peers from all political parties in Westminster and calls on the UK government to ensure any publicly funded vaccine is available on an open-access basis so developing countries can afford to purchase, and indeed, produce the vaccine at a reasonable cost. Any pharmaceutical monopoly could see developing countries left behind.
Rosie Cooper MP commented:
“It is absolutely crucial that once a vaccine is found, it is universally available. If we are to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic we need to ensure that the virus is completely eradicated internationally or we risk the UK becoming Coronavirus free only to have it brought back into the country by visitors.”
The Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Vaccinations for All, Dr Philippa Whitford MP said:
“When Scottish pharmacist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, he recognised it was an incredible health breakthrough that should be widely available. He gave up the opportunity to amass personal wealth and, instead, transferred the patent to the UK and US governments.
“In that same spirit, the UK government must work cooperatively with the rest of the world and ensure that any COVID-19 vaccine will not be patented, to create a monopoly, but allow equitable access across the world.
“The APPG on Vaccinations for All has brought together MPs and Peers from all political parties in calling for this commitment, which is supported by many health and developmental advocacy charities. Just as coronavirus does not see borders, it is absolutely crucial that the fight against the virus is a worldwide effort.
“The UK government should follow the lead of Costa Rica in supporting a global sharing or open access mechanism so that any patent rights are held by the World Health Organisation. While this a humanitarian approach, it also makes sense from a public health perspective.
“We have seen the speed with which COVID-19 has spread across the world, so failure to control or eliminate it in developing countries would just see the virus returning to cause further epidemics in the future.
“A vaccine will only be globally effective if it’s affordable, accessible and available for everyone who needs it – now is the time to act to make that possible.”
Lib Dem Peer Baroness Sheehan said:
“Liberal Democrats urge the UK government to lead the call for the world to work collaboratively under the auspices of the WHO. A global health crisis needs a global response – that much is clear. Instead of countries competing for supplies and working in silos for a solution, wouldn’t it be better if we were to pool the global effort to defeat Covid-19? There is no time to waste, we must take urgent action.”