Human Rights Watch (HRW) accuses a few rich countries of stalling a proposal that could address vaccine inequality after being lobbied by big pharmaceutical companies.
HRW’s Aruna Kashyap, associate business and human rights director:
"Waiting for the benevolence of wealthy governments and pharmaceutical companies has dealt a deadly blow to basic rights ... It’s unconscionable that wealthy governments are reducing life-saving health care to a tradeable commodity and using their power at the WTO to make the right to health subservient to pharma and trade interests."
The push for a waiver of medical patents is back on the agenda this week with talks due to be held at the World Trade Organization, almost a year since it was first proposed by India and South Africa.
Yesterday, medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières called out the UK, EU (led by Germany), Switzerland and Norway as barriers to the proposal. Its supporters say it would allow vaccines to be produced more quickly by tapping into unused capacity around the world and take pricing out of the hands of pharmaceuticals.
The pharmaceuticals have however opposed the move and argued it would not help speed up vaccine production.