For Immediate Release
Large Majority of US Voters Want Biden to Suspend Patents on COVID-19 Vaccines, New Poll Finds
A new poll finds that 60% of US voters want President Joe Biden to endorse the motion by more than 100 lower- and middle-income countries to remove patent barriers on Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization. Only 28% disagreed.
The survey, carried out by Data for Progress for the Progressive International, shows a super majority of 72% registered Democrats want Biden to remove patent barriers to speed vaccine roll out and reduce costs for developing nations. Even registered Republicans support the action by margin of 50% in favor to 36% opposed.
The new polling shows that “there is a popular mandate from the US American people to put human life and economic recovery ahead of corporate profits and a broken intellectual property system,” said David Adler, the general coordinator of the Progressive International. Burcu Kilic, research director of the access to medicines program at Public Citizen and member of Progressive International’s Council, called on Biden to “listen to Americans who put him in power” and “do the right thing.”
Due to WTO intellectual property rules, countries are barred from producing Covid vaccines owned by the current leading approved vaccines, including US-produced Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. In October of 2020, South Africa and India presented the WTO with a proposal to temporarily waive these rules for the duration of the pandemic so that vaccines can be manufactured across different countries, increasing their availability, reducing their cost and ensuring that they are delivered to everyone on earth as quickly as possible.
In the absence of the waiver, the current manufacturing and distribution rates are unlikely to stem the pandemic’s momentum, especially as new variants, which are more infectious and seem to evade the acquired immunity from prior infection or from the current vaccines, continue to emerge. The US under President Trump joined other richer nations to block them.
The shock poll reveals a level of public support for intellectual property waivers that will likely add to growing congressional pressure on Biden to join those pushing to save lives through a global vaccination drive. The finding comes one day after former world leaders came together to call on the World Trade Organization to endorse the waiver.
Commenting on the poll findings, David Adler, general coordinator of the Progressive International said:
“US Americans know rigged rules to prop up big pharma’s profits are not in their interest. The longer the virus has to spread, the more it can mutate and become vaccine-resistant.
“Covid-19 anywhere is a threat to public health and economic wellbeing everywhere. If intellectual property restrictions are not lifted, the pandemic will go on for longer, killing more people and damaging more livelihoods.
“This poll shows there is a popular mandate from the US American people to put to human life ahead of corporate profits.”
“The message to President Biden is simple: it’s time to act. Stand up to big pharma lobbyists and put the health and economic security of the US American people and the whole world first.”
Senator Bernie Sanders, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said:
“I strongly believe that the United States should be leading the global effort to end the coronavirus pandemic. Supporting a temporary WTO waiver, which would enable the transfer of vaccine technologies to poorer countries, is a good way to do that. This virus does not respect borders. The bottom line is, the faster we help vaccinate the global population, the safer we will all be. That should be our number one priority, not maximizing the profits of pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders.”
Representative Ilhan Omar said:
“The global poor have been hit hardest by the pandemic and ensuing economic crisis. At least 85 poor countries are currently not expected to have significant access to the vaccine until 2023. This is a death sentence for millions around the world—and it is because giant pharmaceutical corporations would rather maximize profit than provide vaccines to people who need it.
“President Biden has taken significant steps to rejoin the global community. Now it is imperative that he support a waiver to boost the production of vaccines, treatment and tests worldwide. This is not just an issue of basic morality, but of public health. The virus does not respect borders. Until all of us are safe from this virus, no one is.”
Burcu Kilic, research director of the access to medicines program at Public Citizen and member of Progressive International’s Council, said:
“Temporary suspension of pharmaceutical monopolies is what the world needs. It would enable developing countries to help themselves deal with this pandemic. But Big Pharma has been insisting on “business-as-usual” at all costs.
“President Biden must listen to Americans who put him in power and quickly reverse court to do the right thing.”