Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: First Union
A response from the Minister of Trade to a letter from 42 organisations and noted experts regarding a proposed waiver to WTO intellectual property rules shows that New Zealand risks being on the wrong side of history.
“88 percent of WTO members states now support the proposed waiver, and last week the World Health Organisation’s Director-General spoke out in support of the waiver to supercharge global vaccine production,” said Edward Miller, spokesperson for It’s Our Future.
“We’re glad that New Zealand has said it’s open to consider all options, but without supporting the waiver we ignore the demands of the vast majority of humanity, putting us squarely on the wrong side of history.”
Miller said he was concerned that the Minister (response attached) had relied on the importance of intellectual property protections spurring innovations like vaccine development.
“This argument may make sense in other contexts, but a major chunk of Covid vaccine development was funded by state Governments themselves, while companies like Pfizer and Moderna are each projecting tens of billions in revenue this year from the sale of Covid vaccines off the backs of these subsidies.”
“The link between risk and reward is far from straightforward here, so let’s focus on ending the pandemic rather than supporting Big Pharma profits.”
Miller said that vaccine rollouts in wealthy countries are hammering the rate of new infections, however 8 out of 10 people in low-income countries are unlikely to get a vaccine this year.
“The worst case scenario here is a kind of “vaccine apartheid”, where rich countries take advantage of the ongoing Covid health and economic crisis in low income countries, making global trade and production even more one-sided.”
NB: The term “vaccine apartheid” has been used elsewhere, including UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, who notes that “[t]oday we are witness to a vaccine apartheid that is only serving the interests of powerful and profitable pharmaceutical corporations while costing us the quickest and least harmful route out of the crisis.”