people across the globe have died of Covid-19 in the roughly nine months since India and South Africa first proposed a temporary patent waiver for coronavirus vaccines, a popular measure that Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and other rich countries have blocked.
More than 100 WTO member countries—including the United States—have backed the patent waiver. But because the WTO operates by consensus, several powerful rich countries have been able to thwart the patent waiver push.
It has left pharmaceutical companies in control of vaccine manufacturing even as it has become abundantly clear that current production levels are not sufficient to meet global needs.
Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now explained that "Every one of those deaths is a mark of shame for the governments of countries like the U.K. and Germany who have protected patents over human lives...The virus is ravaging the world's poorest while rich governments buy booster shots and vaccinate low-risk groups. Extreme vaccine inequality will be never-ending unless we remove the corporate monopolies which are preventing the world from ramping up production...Many of the deaths we mourn today could have been prevented if not for the shameful intransigence of governments like our own."
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division, said, "The Delta variant is burning a murderous path through a world where most people are literally dying for a vaccine but there simply is no supply. Until the WTO intellectual property barriers are waived, and governments force technology transfer and fund major new manufacturing capacity so the needed vaccines are made to inoculate the world, it will be one variant after another getting hatched."