Rebecca Conway

COVID-19: Time for countries blocking TRIPS waiver to support lifting of restrictions

Ahead of the one-year anniversary of South Africa and India’s call for a TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 vaccines on 2 October 2021, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said:

“Since India and South Africa called for a TRIPS waiver one year ago, a staggering 3.5 million people have died from Covid-19. How many more people must die needlessly before countries do the right thing and support the lifting of patent restrictions, so Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments can be produced worldwide?

“It is simply shameful that a handful of wealthy governments continue to monopolize vaccine supply while consistently opposing attempts to free up intellectual property rights that would enable other States to fulfil their obligations to protect their people.  The UK, Norway, Switzerland and the EU – including Germany – are still selfishly blocking the TRIPS waiver while other countries continue to waste time and prevaricate. Pharma companies have also behaved shamefully – pushing up prices, monopolizing intellectual property, blocking technology transfers, and lobbying aggressively against measures that would expand global manufacturing to line their pockets.

Greed is triumphing over human life and human rights… poorer countries are losing precious time to protect their populations.

Secretary General, Agnès Callamard

“Greed is triumphing over human life and human rights. These companies and States are seeing the beginning of their economic recovery while letting millions of people risk their lives and health because they don’t have access to a life-saving vaccine. Poorer countries are losing precious time to protect their populations.

“Rarely does a solution that is so clear and so achievable present itself. The world is already miles off track from the World Health Organization’s current target of ensuring 40% of people in lower-income countries are vaccinated by the end of this year, let alone 70% by mid-2022. Many countries continue to grapple with over-run hospitals and lack of medical supplies, including vaccines which is what has kept millions of peoples out of hospitals in wealthy countries that have a steady supply. We don’t have the luxury of time. Rich states must act now. Countless lives depend on it.”

Notes to editors

Amnesty International has launched a new campaign, 100 Day Countdown: 2 billion Covid-19 vaccines now!. The organization is calling on states and pharmaceutical companies to deliver 2 billion vaccines to those who need it most starting now, to ensure that the World Health Organization’s target of vaccinating 40% of the population of low and lower-middle income countries by the end of the year is met.

Currently, 105 countries are supporting the TRIPS waiver, but a consensus of all 164 World Trade Organization (WTO) members must be reached before it is adopted.

End vaccine inequality now