Today, the European Parliament voted for the European Union to support the lifting of patents for Covid-19 vaccines in the form of a temporary TRIPS waiver in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
For months, the Socialists and Democrats have led calls to support a Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver as part of their comprehensive vaccine strategy consisting of: boosting global production by also making more doses available through COVAX; tackling bottlenecks in the supply chains; the sharing of technology and knowledge about vaccine production; and making targeted investments in additional production capacity.
Out of the 1.5 billion vaccine doses administered as of May worldwide, only 0.3% have been given in the 29 poorest countries, home to about 9% of the world’s population.
Kathleen Van Brempt, S&D MEP, spokesperson on trade and negotiator on the TRIPS waiver, said:
“With today’s vote, the European Parliament calls on the Commission to finally do the right thing and save lives by supporting the lifting of patents for Covid-19 vaccines and medical equipment. The TRIPS waiver may not prove to be a miracle solution, but it is one of the essential building blocks of a strong global vaccination campaign. Exceptional situations call for exceptional measures.
“The alternative proposal submitted by the European Commission to the WTO falls short in the face of the epochal challenge we are facing. This won’t help us to boost additional production in developing countries or increase the access to affordable vaccines in the poorest regions of the world. To make sure everyone gets access to vaccines the EU needs a comprehensive strategy.
“There is a choice to be made by the EU: to protect the pharmaceutical industry or to protect lives. The European Parliament today decided that it will stand on the right side of history.”
Marek Belka, S&D MEP and vice-president responsible for trade, said:
“We must move forward quickly to ensure that governments worldwide have all possible tools at their disposal in the fight against Covid-19. The temporary TRIPS waiver is one crucial tool in the toolbox, but we want them to have additional tools by tackling bottlenecks in the supply chains, by sharing technology and knowledge about vaccine production and by making targeted investments in additional production capacity.
“We want COVAX to step up the distribution of more vaccine doses. Donations are important in the short term, but we must move beyond charity and empower more countries to produce their own vaccines. This is what the Parliament called for in today’s vote.”