Myself and other MPs have written a letter which calls on the Government to support the adoption of the proposed World Trade Organisation waiver on intellectual property (IP) protection for COVID-19 health technologies.
The aim of this waiver, as proposed by South Africa and India, is to prevent Intellectual Property (IP) barriers from restricting access to COVID-19 medicines, tools, devices and vaccines to ensure all health systems are equipped with the health technologies they need to end this pandemic.
As we have, quite rightly, welcomed news of various big pharmaceutical companies announcing potential Covid vaccines, we must remember two key factors:
1. Most of not all of these companies have either directly or indirectly through associated companies benefited from public money to fund their research into these vaccines. That means we should have a say on how these vaccines are distributed and whether for the Covid emergency we should allow other countries to circumvent IP and mass produce cheap, generic variants as well as any other medicines or medical equipment needed to treat those with the virus.
2. Richer countries like the UK and US are now buying the vast bulk of the vaccines, leaving poorer countries with little chance of a fair share.
We should not allow big pharmaceutical countries to profiteer from this virus, especially when much of their research has been publicly funded.
Whether you agree with the morality of this or not, there is a more practical reason as well. Unless Covid is wiped out globally, large swathes of the world will still be affected limiting the effectiveness of any vaccine as we attempt to rebuild the global economy.
Whatever out motivation, whether ethical or practical, waiving IP fir Covid related medicines and equipment is the right thing to do.
The linked article gives more detail and shows there is international concern about this issue.
You can read the letter I signed here: https://bit.ly/TRIPSWaiver