4th Covid anniversary: Global experts urge US, EU to end patent hypocrisy

Global health experts from a group of 58 charities, NGOs on Monday, the fourth anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic,

New Delhi, March 11 (IANS) Global health experts from a group of 58 charities, NGOs on Monday, the fourth anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic, urged the US and European Union to end “patent hypocrisy” to help the world to effectively prepare for the next pandemic.

Covid was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. The pandemic has claimed over 7 million lives globally.

The WHO has been calling for a global pandemic treaty and waiving off intellectual property (IP) rights to help all countries equally prepare for the next pandemic, with vaccines and test kits, among others.

However, the rich countries, including the US and EU have been opposing measures to ease IP rights.

In an open letter coordinated by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, organisations including Oxfam, The African Alliance, Innovarte, and Public Citizen accused US President Joe Biden and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen of undermining “the safety of all humanity in the next health crisis”.

“It cannot be one rule for Americans and Europeans and another for everyone else,” they said, in the letter.

During Covid pandemic, the rich countries had blocked proposals to waive intellectual property rules on Covid vaccines, tests, and treatments. This reportedly resulted in about 1.3 million loss of lives by the end of 2021, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.

The experts called on the leaders to “support measures in the Pandemic Accord to enable lower-income countries to overcome intellectual property barriers, to make public funding of R&D conditional upon sharing pharmaceutical technology and knowhow with Global South countries, and to embed transparency in global health by publishing all government contracts with companies involved in public health”.

They also called for extending the pandemic flu mechanism. Under this, countries that share pathogen data to monitor for threats receive benefits such as fair access to medicines and financial contributions.

–IANS

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