The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), has urged the World Trade Organization (WTO) to relax the provisions of its Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement for patent free access to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines and medicines.
SJM’s officials said there is a need to scale up the production of vaccines to protect people against new Covid-19 infections. “To protect people from Coronavirus, the world needs about 14 billion vaccine doses, whereas in the last 6 months, only 200 crore doses of vaccines could be produced by all eight pharma companies,” SJM said.
To meet the gap in production, the SJM has suggested that global pharmaceutical companies should voluntarily transfer technology, raw material sources and trade secrets, to other pharma companies to facilitate production of vaccines and medicines free from patents. It has also called for governments to use their sovereign rights to licence more pharmaceutical firms to make vaccines.
India, which has recorded 386,713 Covid-19 deaths so far has administered more than 27 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses since it began the vaccination drive on January 16, data from the Union health ministry shows. In October 2020, India and South Africa at the WTO had jointly proposed a waiver on intellectual property on medicinal tools for vaccines.
SJM cautioned that unless the restrictions on manufacture of vaccines are lifted, the immunization programme will be hampered. “At the current rate, it may take another 2-3 years for the world’s eligible population to be vaccinated. It is imperative to vaccinate all the people all over the globe at a much faster pace, because ‘no one will be safe until everyone is safe’,” SJM said.
The SJM has been pushing for relaxing patent laws even if it is for a limited period, to increase the production of vaccines and medicines. An online signature campaign for ‘Universal Access to Vaccine and Medicines’ started by the SJM, which has so far got support of 14 lakh people from India and abroad will be submitted to WTO, governments of different countries and to the companies that produce the vaccines.