The European Pirates Delegation in the Greens/EFA group supported a TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 vaccine patents in yesterday’s vote. The MEPs have decided that the EU should now ask the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines. According to Pirates, the European Commission must now start working together with the Member States to speed up the provision of vaccines.
Patrick Breyer, German Pirate Party Member of the European Parliament, comments:
„There’s no justification for exclusive patents during a global health crisis. As this pandemic is escalating, we have a moral, ethical and medical responsibility to overcome short-sighted capitalist self-interest in maximum profit and increase the vaccination rate rapidly. Development of these medical technologies has been made possible with large amounts of public money, so the only logical consequence is to share the intellectual property for the greater good and offer fair compensation to patent holders. Us, Pirates, have always been calling for reform of the excesses of patent rules which stifle innovation and fail to meet public needs.“
Mikuláš Peksa, Czech MEP and Chairperson of the European Pirates, comments:
„We, Pirates, have been calling for the release of patents for a long time. It is beyond doubt that this is the key step to end the deadly pandemic. We cannot claim: ‘We have managed the pandemic, it is our victory’. Until the whole world is safe, no one is safe. Without vaccination for every human being, new mutations of the coronavirus will appear and it is only a matter of time until new, vaccine-proof one starts spreading. And there is the most important reason for this step: if we do not release vaccine patents, we will cause hundreds of thousands of people to die around the world just because a few pharmaceutical companies were greedy. Affordable vaccines for the whole world are the only long term solution.“
Marcel Kolaja, Czech MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament, comments:
„It is not only the European Parliament who is calling for the temporary TRIPS waiver today. It is scientists, Nobel laureates and even multiple international NGOs. And those people are present in the developing countries, they do have the knowledge of the situation on the ground. There are provably enough manufacture capacities which are not being used because they simply did not get the licence. It really is time for the international community to start prioritizing peoples’ lives.”
Any decision on waiving intellectual property rights has to be taken by the WTO TRIPS Council. In October last year, India and South Africa initiated a proposal in the WTO to temporarily exempt all patents related to COVID-19 prevention, containment and treatment from IPR protection. Later, the US administration backed the call exclusively for COVID-19 vaccines.