More than 170 former world leaders and Nobel laureates believe the waiver is essential to accelerate global vaccine production.
A group of more than 170 former world leaders and Nobel Laureates is calling on US President Joe Biden to make COVID-19 vaccines more readily available by deviating from US intellectual property rules.
In one open letter shared by Oxfam on Wednesday, the signatories also urged Biden to support a proposal sponsored by South Africa and India demanding that the World Trade Organization (WTO) temporarily waive patents on the COVID-19 vaccine.
The measure would allow vaccine manufacturing to accelerate globally, the letter said, as public health experts raised concerns that low-income countries are being left behind without access to critical coronavirus injections.
At the current rate, the world’s poorest countries will have to wait until at least 2024 to achieve “mass vaccination,” the signatories, which included former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former French President Francois Hollande and Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner said.
“We believe this would be an unprecedented opportunity for the United States to show solidarity, cooperation and renewed leadership,” they said.
In the United States, where the pandemic has killed more than 564,000 people, the Biden administration has pledged to make COVID-19 jabs available to all qualifying U.S. adults by next week.
The country has contracts with pharmaceutical manufacturers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, and by Wednesday morning just over 37% of the population had received at least one stroke, according to the state Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -United.
Biden, who has made fighting the pandemic a central focus of his presidency, said the United States will share any surplus vaccines with other countries once all American citizens are vaccinated. But he provided few details on how the United States intends to allocate these doses over time.
“We will not end today’s global pandemic as long as the rich countries – especially the United States – stop blocking capacity countries around the world to mass-produce safe and effective vaccines, ”said Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, in declaration accompanying Wednesday’s open letter.
“The fact that the Biden administration plans to remove barriers related to intellectual property rules gives hope to the international community. If the United States supports the lifting of patents, Europe will have to take its responsibilities, ”also declared Hollande, the former French president.
The United States has engaged $ 4 billion for the COVAX program, which aims to help low-income countries acquire vaccines.
The leaders of the United States, India, Japan and Australia – the so-called “Quad” countries – also last month announced plans to work with the World Health Organization develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to one billion people in the Indo-Pacific region.
A senior White House official described the Quad’s vaccination program as “a massive joint engagement today with Indian manufacturing, US technology, Japanese and US funding, and Australian logistics capability.”
Separately, the United States, Australia and Japan have agreed to speed up production US vaccines in India from 2022.