The humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières, (MSF), Doctors Without Borders, has pleaded once more for the United States, European Union member nations, and other rich countries to immediately end their opposition to South Africa and India's patent waiver proposal, which would enable the mass production of generic coronavirus vaccines to meet the developing world's dire needs.
"In this Covid-19 pandemic, we are once again faced with issues of scarcity, which can be addressed through diversification of manufacturing and supply capacity and ensuring the temporary waiver of relevant intellectual property," Dr. Maria Guevara, international medical secretary of Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement. "We urge all countries in opposition to this, including the U.S. and the E.U., to stand on the right side of history and join hands with those in support. It is about saving lives at the end, not protecting systems."
With strict intellectual property rules in place, low-income countries have been left largely without access to life-saving vaccines as infections continue to surge across the globe, leading experts to fear the emergence of vaccine-resistant strains that could prolong the global pandemic.
However, the U.S. and European countries have repeatedly refused, denying the World Trade Organization (WTO) the consensus support necessary to move forward with the waiver and keeping vaccine production under the control of profit-driven pharmaceutical companies that have lobbied aggressively against the proposal.
Dr. Márcio da Fonseca, infectious disease adviser for Doctors Without Borders' Access Campaign, said that "we have learned the hard lessons of the past of having to take a country-by-country and product-by-product approach of removing intellectual property barriers impeding access to lifesaving treatments; it is not sufficient and doesn't provide no expeditious option for this global pandemic. At a time when more than three million lives have already been lost to Covid-19," da Fonseca added, "we urge countries to take all possible measures, including supporting this waiver, to be able to protect everyone, everywhere during this pandemic."