Former world leaders, Nobel laureates call on Germany to waive vaccine patents
More than 140 former heads of state and Nobel laureates today called on the German chancellor candidates Annalena Baerbock, Olaf Scholz, and Armin Laschet to declare themselves in favour of waiving intellectual property rules for COVID 19 vaccines, transferring vaccine technologies, and "to make these the policies of any future coalition government".
The signatories underlined that ending German opposition to waiving patents is vital to overcoming vaccine monopolies, transferring vaccine technology, and scaling up vaccine manufacturing around the world to prevent more deaths from Covid-19.
Former world leaders and Nobel laureates expressed their deep concern with Germany's continued opposition to a temporary waiver of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) intellectual property rules, at a time when the artificial restriction on manufacturing and supply is leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths from Covid-19 each day. Less than two percent of adults are fully vaccinated in low-income countries compared to almost 50 percent in high-income countries.
Signatories include world leaders like former President of France François Hollande, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown, former President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Malawi Joyce Banda, Nobel prize winners Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Professor Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, Professor Muhammad Yunus, and Elfriede Jelinek, among others.
They urged the three candidates to support a comprehensive waiver of the TRIPS intellectual property agreement on all Covid-19-related technologies at the WTO, and join over 100 countries, including the United States and France, in doing so.
Despite that, Germany continues to oppose a waiver of the trade-related aspects of intellectual property (TRIPS) agreement for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments at the WTO. First proposed by India and South Africa in October 2020, a waiver is now supported by more than 100 nations, with France and the United States announcing their support earlier this year.
In addition to supporting the waiver, signatories also called on the next Chancellor to ensure that German pharmaceutical companies openly and rapidly share mRNA vaccine technology with qualified producers around the world.
Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, said "Germany's support for a TRIPS waiver in the exceptional circumstances presented by COVID-19 would send a clear signal that all people should be able to benefit speedily from available vaccines and therapeutics."
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Economics Prize Laureate, said "The new Chancellor of Germany will hold extraordinary power to turn the tide on this horrific pandemic and can be the world leader remembered for helping save millions of lives."
The letter, coordinated by the People's Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of more than 70 organizations including Club de Madrid, the Yunus Centre, and UNAIDS, warned that extreme vaccine inequity is bound to last as long as there is no remarkable increase in vaccine production. While high-income countries are now starting to offer their citizens booster shots, the global supply falls far short of the levels needed to provide global vaccination coverage.