Europe should continue to take the lead in showing solidarity and guaranteeing everyone gets vaccinated against Covid-19. From the very beginning, we have made our position clear the vaccine is a public good and should be accessible to everyone*.
In the plenary session next week, our Group will ask for a debate with a resolution on the EU global vaccination strategy. Now that the US Biden-Harris administration has also proposed waiving intellectual property protections for vaccines, we believe that the European Commission should take the TRIPS waiver as a starting point to increase global access to affordable Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. The Commission should commit to overcoming barriers and restrictions linked to patents and intellectual property rights in order to ensure the widespread production of vaccines and their timely distribution to people across the world.
The S&D vice-president responsible for trade, Marek Belka MEP, commented:
“It is good news that Biden's administration is now supporting the proposed temporary WTO TRIPS waiver. Europe should follow. The pandemic has struck a serious blow to people’s livelihoods and to the world’s economy, with the most severe consequences in the developing world.
“We have to do all it takes to help those in need and make sure that everyone is safe. Only then can we all beat this pandemic.”
The S&D co-ordinator in the international trade committee, Kathleen Van Brempt MEP, said:
“It has been repeated many times: we will not be safe until everyone has access to a vaccine. Over recent months we have failed to deliver on that promise. Our vaccination campaign is running at full speed, but that is in stark contrast to a large part of the world where the first shot has yet to be given.
“The fact that the United States, under the Biden administration, has now decided to support the temporary lifting of the international obligations regarding patents for Covid-19 is a real game changer. And it's not just about patents.
“We need to do whatever it takes to scale up the global production capacity of Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics, treatments and medical equipment. The transfer of data, research and knowledge about vaccine production is also essential. As President Biden rightly pointed out yesterday, exceptional times call for exceptional measures. We have no time to waste.”
The S&D co-ordinator in the development committee, Udo Bullmann MEP, added:
“Opening up patent rights on Covid-19 vaccines can be the game changer for the global south. Many of the hardest-hit regions, including South Africa, India and Brazil, are still in dire need of more vaccine doses to limit the spread and the potential for mutations.
“While production plants in our partner countries could have been producing vaccines for months already, it is not too late to scale up global production as soon as possible to save lives and end this pandemic once and for all.
“The EU has to step up its game now, stop blocking the process and work on a quick and productive solution. We cannot afford any more delays."
Note to editors
Patent protection for pharmaceutical products is mandated under World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Agreement (the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights).
*For details of our position on global vaccine distribution, see our policy paper, A fair and equitable global vaccine strategy, and press release S&Ds: The EU Commission must step up to eradicate Covid-19 globally. This is the only way forward to get rid of this pandemic | Socialists & Democrats (socialistsanddemocrats.eu).