Access to medicines
It’s really crucial that access to new COVID 19 tests and vaccines are available to everyone regardless of income but there are real fears that this may not happen if big pharmaceutical companies are out to make enormous profits.
Poor countries often have very limited health provision and find it hard to compete for limited supplies of PPE, testing equipment and drugs. This will be worse if only a few companies are manufacturing COVID19 vaccines and drugs.
We need to call for:
- Conditions on all public funding to ensure no patents, open source research and transparency over funding
- The suspension of patents for key drugs etc
- A global pooling mechanism hosted by the WTO
- Global collaboration to get supplies to poorer countries
On 24 April, the WHO announced a new international collaboration with 20 countries (including the UK), global health leaders and multilateral agencies. Its aim is to ensure global access for all to new COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and tests. To get commitment at international level on global equitable access is a step in the right direction however there are no plans or details yet. Instead there are many questions as to what concrete steps this group is willing to take to make equitable access a reality. You can see the WHO’s announcement about this group here
One of the first actions of this new international group was to host a Coronavirus Global Response Summit with the aim of raising £7 billion to develop COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests. However, raising money alone is not sufficient to ensure that there will be a fair distribution of any new vaccine. Instead, we need all public money raised from the Summit to have conditions attached on access, to ensure any vaccine is affordable to every country as well as free to the public.
Please sign this petition and please share it to your contacts.
Heidi Chow from Global Justice Now says: We welcome the funding that has been pledged today and the commitment of the hosts to make any Covid-19 vaccine available, accessible and affordable to all. But what is not clear is how the hosts of today’s summit intend to achieve the aim of universal access.
Recent history tells us that it will not happen by default. Instead the hosts of today’s Summit must take concrete actions and ensure that conditions are attached to all funding that has been pledged. These conditions should state that all publicly funded Covid-19 vaccines and treatments are patent-free. Ruling out pharmaceutical monopolies will not only prevent corporate profiteering but will also enable mass production at a scale that will be required by global demand.
The challenge of our time is not just to develop a vaccine but to also take the bold steps needed to ensure new Covid-19 vaccines and treatments are affordable for all countries and free to the public.
The government of Costa Rica has proposed that the World Health Organization creates a global pooling mechanism where countries can freely or affordably access the treatments and vaccines needed to save lives. But this will only go ahead if there is support from governments like the UK. Now more than ever, we need global solutions like this one which would put public health before corporate profits. Please email Matt Hancock to ask him to support this.