A majority of people in G7 countries believe governments should ensure drug companies share their vaccine formulations and technology, according to a new poll from the People’s Vaccine Alliance.
In a briefing on Wednesday, the alliance said that on average seven in 10 people in G7 countries want the government to ensure vaccine know-how is shared, according to the poll.
Respondents were asked if they thought pharmaceutical companies should be compensated fairly for vaccine development, but should not have a monopoly on vaccines.
In the UK, a total of 74% want the government to prevent monopolies, with those from all walks of life supporting the intervention.
Support for government intervention was highest in Italy with 82% of respondents in favor, followed by Canada where 76% agreed.
In the United States, 69 percent of the public support the measure, while in Japan 58 percent agree with the action.
European Union member countries are also in favor, with support of 70% in Germany and 63% in France, according to the poll.
The poll was released as G7 members gathered in London, with a final day of formal talks on Wednesday. G7 members, including the UK, US, Japan, France, Germany, Canada and Italy, will try to agree on a way to make coronavirus vaccines available in the whole world in the long run.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed on the need for a global deployment of COVID-19 vaccines to end the pandemic.
“The Prime Minister and Secretary Blinken have agreed that the global deployment of vaccines will be critical to beating the coronavirus pandemic,” Johnson’s office said in a statement. “They underscored the importance of the G7’s work in this area, including efforts to increase international manufacturing capacity.”
Separately on Wednesday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) will meet remotely, where members will discuss a proposed waiver of intellectual property rights for the production of coronavirus vaccines during the duration of the pandemic.
Proponents of the plan, originally submitted by South Africa and India, say it would allow more places to produce coronavirus vaccines without breaking international rules under the deal. WTO on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
But the proposal has been blocked by countries like the US, UK, Japan, Canada and the EU. The United States has confirmed that it is reconsider opposition to waiver.
Pharmaceutical companies have so far refused to share their vaccine know-how and have argued that a waiver would hurt innovation.
The WTO meeting comes as India battles a devastating second wave of the coronavirus, which has left mortuaries and hospitals overwhelmed with shortages of medical oxygen and beds.
The second most populous country in the world has confirmed more than 20 million infections, although the figure is considered a considerable undercoverage. More than 220,000 people have died.
The outbreak, which some experts say is due to new variants of the virus, including a first discovery in India, has killed sick people in ambulances and parking lots.
WHO said the Indian variant has so far spread to 17 countries.
“The horrific situation in India should deeply shake G7 leaders,” said Saoirse Fitzpatrick, advocacy manager for STOPAIDS, in a statement.
“This is not the time for an ideological defense of intellectual property rules. Bilateral deals with pharmaceutical companies have not worked. Governments must step in and force pharmaceutical companies to share their intellectual property and vaccine know-how with the world. “
As chair of the G7, the UK has proposed a pandemic preparedness plan, which will be discussed by ministers this week, which ignores the issue of monopolies and intellectual property. Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer are part of the team preparing the proposal, but developing country governments and vaccine producers have not been invited to join, Amnesty said.
“G7 governments have clear human rights obligations to put the lives of millions of people around the world ahead of the interests of the pharmaceutical companies they have funded,” said Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic Justice and social at Amnesty International.
“It would be a flagrant failure of management to continue to block the sharing of life-saving technologies, and would only serve to prolong the immense pain and suffering caused by this pandemic.”
In April, 175 former world leaders and Nobel laureates, including Gordon Brown, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and François Hollande an open letter, urged US President Joe Biden to support the temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines.
Leading health experts around the world have warned that slow vaccine deployment and uneven distribution could vaccines will become ineffective as new coronavirus mutations appear among unvaccinated populations.
Independent SAGE, which provides independent public health advice in the UK, has also called for a patent waiver.
Pharmaceutical companies that produce coronavirus vaccines have received billions of dollars in government funding and guaranteed pre-orders, including $ 12 billion from the U.S. government alone. According to Amnesty, 97% of funding for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine came from public sources.
“Companies paid a total of $ 26 billion in dividends and share buybacks to their shareholders this year, enough to immunize at least 1.3 billion people, or the equivalent of Africa’s population.”