We have been hearing some very promising news in recent days about a possible COVID-19 vaccine. We're all feeling that a vaccine can't come soon enough. When one does become available, even with the distribution challenges Canada will face, we can be confident that it will be accessible to us. It will not be so in sub-Saharan Africa, where accessibility is certain to be a challenge for most. But it does not have to be that way.
Last month, a proposal was presented at the World Trade Organization (WTO) by India and South Africa for a temporary waiver of certain provisions of the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement to ensure that testing, treatments, vaccines and other health technologies needed to control the coronavirus pandemic are accessible to all, in both developed and developing countries.
The proposal was supported by many developing countries but opposed by most of the well-off nations, Canada among them. The matter has been deferred, but must be decided by the WTO TRIPS Council before 31 December 2020. We have heard that a decision could be taken soon.
In response, GRAN has signed on to a letter with 408 other Civil Society Organizations from around the world, asking the WTO to support the India-South Africa waiver. Additionally, GRAN has written to the Honourable Mary Ng and Navdeep Bains (the Ministers responsible for Trade and Innovation, respectively) asking the Canadian government to support the waiver at the WTO. You can read GRAN’s letter to the Ministers here.
We are asking you to amplify GRAN’s message by writing as soon as possible to Ministers Ng and Bains, copying Minister Gould and your MP. (Please also bcc email@example.com .) To help you craft your email or letter to the Ministers, a template is available here, where you will also find the Ministers’ contact information.
If you would like to learn more about the issue, we suggest this excellent article: COVID-19 drug and vaccine patents are putting profit before people . Additional resources are available on the GRAN website under the Access to Medicines Campaign tab: COVID-19: Vaccines, Testing and Treatments.
Let’s speak up with one voice, asking that COVID-19 vaccines and technologies be accessible to all.
Janet Siddall and Pat Dolan