Vaccine patents: Development organizations criticize G7 health plans

The health plans of the major industrialized nations (G7) have met with criticism from development organizations. Above all, it was criticized that the G7 countries did not address fundamental problems that prevented the vast majority of people from gaining access to vaccines. On the second day of the G7 summit in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay on Saturday, aid organizations reiterated their call for patent rights to be lifted in order to promote the production of vaccines in poor countries as well.

“It is to be welcomed that the G7 are planning concrete steps to end future pandemics more quickly, but the lack of urgent measures to end the current crisis is unforgivable,” said Oxfam’s Jörn Kalinski on the “Health Declaration of Carbis Bay” issued by the G7 – Want to say goodbye to states on Sunday. “Infection rates are skyrocketing in many African countries and the G7 group still believes that late vaccine donations will save the situation.”

As the British G7 host announced on Saturday night, the plan against future pandemics envisages strengthening global early warning systems. The development of vaccines, treatment methods and diagnoses should be reduced to less than 100 days.

“Even if we could develop and approve new vaccines within just weeks, billions of people, especially in poor countries, will wait years before they are actually vaccinated,” said Kalinski. In order to be really prepared, a publicly financed and managed network of vaccine manufacturers is necessary – “free of the restrictions of monopoly-protecting patent rules”.

“Vaccines belong to everyone. Everyone must have equal access,” demanded Fiona Uellendahl from the children’s aid organization World Vision. “You can’t let pharmaceutical companies decide who gets vaccines.” The argument that developing countries cannot build up production fast enough is a “myth”. There is “a lot and very good infrastructure”, even in poor countries, to quickly produce vaccines. “That is quite possible – even in a shorter time.”

Following the proposal by South Africa, India and others to suspend patent rights for a limited period, US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron were also open to it. Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the EU oppose it, arguing that it cannot solve the problems. Patent protection is important for innovation and investment.


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