The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Ex-world leaders urge US to waive vaccine property rules


PARIS: Some 170 former country leaders and Nobel prize laureates have called on the US to waive intellectu­al property rules for Covid-19 vaccines to give poorer countries faster access to inoculatio­ns.

In an open letter to President Joe Biden published late Wednesday, the group said it was “gravely concerned by the very slow progress” in scaling up global vaccine access and inoculatio­n in low- and middleinco­me countries.

While vaccinatio­n rollout in the United States and many wealthier countries was bringing hope to their citizens, “for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen”, said the signatorie­s who include Nobel winners Muhammad Yunus, Joseph Stiglitz and Mohamed ElBaradei and former world leaders such as Mikhail

Gorbachev, Francois Hollande and Gordon Brown.

The group said it was ‘encouraged’ that the Biden administra­tion was considerin­g a temporary waiver of World Trade Organisati­on (WTO) intellectu­al property rules during the Covid-19 pandemic, as proposed by South Africa and India.

Such a waiver would be ‘a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic’ as it would expand global manufactur­ing capacity, ‘unhindered by industry monopolies that are driving the dire supply shortages blocking vaccine access’.

Full protection of intellectu­al property and monopolies would negatively impact efforts to vaccinate the world and be selfdefeat­ing for the US, the group said in the letter coordinate­d by the People’s Vaccine Alliance which groups organisati­ons and activists campaignin­g for an end to property rights and patents for vaccines.

“Were the virus left to roam the world, and even if vaccinated, people in the US would continue to be exposed to new viral variants,” they said.

The letter comes days after the World Health Organisati­on (WHO) condemned the scarcity of Covid doses available for poorer nations.

“There remains a shocking imbalance in the global distributi­on of vaccines,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu­s said on Friday.

By then, more than 732 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines had been administer­ed in at least 195 territorie­s around the world, according to an AFP count.

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