For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Jonathan Stevenson, media officer
Tel:  +44 (0)7711 875 345 or +44 (0)20 7820 4913
Email: jonathan.stevenson@globaljustice.org.uk 

EU-UK Vaccine Dispute Will Be 'First of Many' Unless Patents Suspended, Say Campaigners

  • Big business should not have the power to decide who is vaccinated first
  • Campaigners call for warring parties to work together to ramp up supply

WASHINGTON - Global Justice Now warned today that the dispute between the EU and Britain will be a dangerous sign of things to come unless there is a radical shake-up in the way vaccines are produced. They called for the immediate suspension of patents on Covid-19 vaccines, and an international plan to ramp up production as rapidly as possible, alongside distribution based on need, not wealth. 

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said: 

“The speed with which scientists have discovered these vaccines is awe-inspiring, but we fear the dispute between the EU and Britain is a worrying sign of things to come. Big business should not have the power to decide who is vaccinated first. Unless we fundamentally change who controls the supply of vaccines, this dispute will be the first of many and could lead the world down a dangerous path.

“There is a lot of focus on what will happen to the current limited doses, but the bigger question is why are we allowing big pharma’s patents to artificially limit the supply of these vital vaccines? Every available manufacturer in the world should be producing these vaccines, and governments should be doing whatever it takes to increase manufacturing capacity for the whole world. Instead a handful of massively wealthy corporations are now deciding who gets the vaccines first, based on keeping the customer satisfied, not on saving people’s lives. This will continue to fuel suspicion and to pit countries against each other. 

“European countries are discovering what the rest of the world has long known: big pharma puts profits before people. While the EU and Britain argue about who gets vaccines first, many countries in the world have never so much as sniffed a vaccine. It’s frankly disgusting that very healthy young people in wealthy countries are being put ahead of desperately vulnerable people in lower income countries. What we need is an international plan to produce and distribute as many vaccines as we can, as quickly as we can, to those who most need them first. Brussels and London should learn from this situation, suspend patents, and work together to ramp up supply now.”

The governments of South Africa and India have proposed that the World Trade Organisation suspends trade rules governing intellectual property rights over Covid-19 vaccines and treatments until the pandemic is brought under control. Both the EU and UK have opposed the proposal, which is due for further consideration in March.(1)

###

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:



Global Justice Now is a democratic social justice organisation working as part of a global movement to challenge the powerful and create a more just and equal world. We mobilise people in the UK for change, and act in solidarity with those fighting injustice, particularly in the global south.

Share This Article