MSF accuses Europe of stonewalling patent waiver for Covid vaccines

Geneva, Jun 7 (EFE) .- The European Union and countries including Britain, Switzerland, and Norway continued to obstruct talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on a possible waiver for intellectual property and patent rights on Covid-19 vaccines, an international aid group denounced on Monday.

Doctors Without Borders, better known by its French acronym MSF, said in a statement those countries are “employing delay tactics” at a critical time in the coronavirus pandemic that has caused the death of over 3.5 million people around the world so far.

“In the last few months, we all helplessly witnessed how healthcare workers in countries like India, Peru and Brazil struggled to provide care for people with COVID-19,” said MSF international medical secretary Maria Guevara.

“In addition to vaccines, the world urgently needs access to newer therapeutics and diagnostics to reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths in this pandemic.”

“Governments must do everything in their power to make sure that every country has the best chance to save as many lives as possible throughout this pandemic.”

In October, a group of developing countries led by India and South Africa submitted a proposal to the WTO to suspend patent rights of the vaccines for at least three years in order to tackle jab shortages.

Last week, the European Commission proposed compulsory licensing as a way to increase Covid-19 vaccine distribution worldwide; however, it withheld support for lifting patent protection entirely.

 “Our priority: ramp up production, diversify manufacturing and share vaccines,” EC president Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter.

This proposal “brings nothing significantly new to the table and instead is merely a maneuver to stall the waiver negotiation process,” according to the MSF.

The medical aid group explained that “waiving monopolies would help level the playing field in this pandemic and ensure access to critically important COVID-19 medical tools for everyone who needs them, regardless of where they live.”

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