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Tue Apr 20, 2021, 02:28 PM

Dear President Biden, A WTO Waiver Is Vital and Necessary

Why aren't major corporations calling for this? If we get a new variant that doesn't respond to the vaccines then we're back to square one. Even if that doesn't happen, and of course I hope it won't, the global economy can't recover until the world gets passed this crisis. We have a narrow window to make this work. Frankly, I think the US together with the EU and other allies should simply foot the cost of vaccinating the world. It would be like a new Marshall Plan, and would help restore our credibility and standing in the world after four years of Trump's vicious corruption, cruelty, and incompetence. I read somewhere that the cost to vaccinate the world would be about $400 billion. That's chump change compared to the economic losses already sustained, not to mention potential further losses.

Dear President Biden,

We, the undersigned former heads of state and government and Nobel laureates, are gravely concerned by the slow progress in scaling up global Covid-19 vaccine access and inoculation in low- and middle-income countries.

A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring that vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly. This can be achieved through the World Health Organization Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, as your chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, has advocated. This will save lives and advance us toward global herd immunity.

These actions would expand global manufacturing capacity, unhindered by industry monopolies that are driving the dire supply shortages and blocking vaccine access. Nine in ten people in most poor countries may well go without a vaccine this year. At this pace, many countries will be left waiting until at least 2024 to achieve mass Covid-19 immunization, despite what the limited, while welcome, Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) initiative is able to offer.

The WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver should be accompanied by coordinated global investment in research, development, and manufacturing capacity to tackle this pandemic and prepare us for future ones, as part of a more robust international health architecture. If the past year has taught us anything, it is that threats to public health are global, and that strategic government investment, action, cooperation, and solidarity are vital. The market cannot adequately meet these challenges, and neither can narrow nationalism.

The full protection of intellectual property and monopolies will negatively affect efforts to vaccinate the world and be self-defeating for the U.S. Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3 trillion in GDP this year. Were the virus left to roam the world, people in the U.S., even if vaccinated, would continue to be exposed to new viral variants.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/04/18/dear-president-biden-wto-waiver-vital-and-necessary



This would mean suspending intellectual property claims over these vaccines. From a moral standpoint, this should not be a tough call since governments paid for so much of the development costs. In the United States, Section 1498 of the commercial code provides legal authority.

We also have the issue that much of the manufacturing expertise is held as an industrial secret by Pfizer, Moderna, and other drug companies. We can buy this expertise, but if these companies choose not to be willing sellers, we can simply go around them. Large payments to their engineers (e.g. $1 million a month) should be able to convince most of them to share their knowledge with the world. The government can also commit to covering their legal liability from lawsuits by their former employers.

These may sound like extreme measures, but what are we going to do if a new and more deadly vaccine-resistant strain develops in Zambia or Burma? I don’t want to hear another chorus of “who could have known?” from our intellectuals who missed another huge one.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/04/11/vaccine-summit-taking-pandemic-seriously

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