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Patent-free Covid-19 vaccines: Yunus’ petition gets 1 million signatures

  • Published at 11:33 pm December 11th, 2020
Covid-19 vaccine
Representational photo: Bigstock

The petition calls on the governments and businesses to make Covid-19 vaccines and medical technologies available everywhere

Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus’ petition on putting people ahead of pharma patents has received nearly one million signatures.

In June, Professor Yunus called on global leaders to make Covid-19 vaccines free for the common good.

Also, 24 other Nobel laureates and 125 former presidents, prime ministers, and eminent global figures joined him.

Professor Yunus’ petition calls on the governments and businesses to make Covid-19 vaccines and medical technologies available everywhere by removing corporate or commercial control over the intellectual property (IP) rights.

Also, the petition urges the pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily hand over intellectual property rights and know-how for reaching those vaccines to everyone, everywhere, at the lowest cost possible, at the fastest possible time.

Countries in Europe and America have locked up most of the global supply of vaccines for their populations, pushing lower-income nations to the back of the queue, Yunus said.

“Under current mechanisms such as COVAX, which are commendable, there will not be enough vaccine doses to go around by the end of 2021.”

To meet the recent challenges, countries urgently need to ramp up diagnostics tools, get access to potentially effective treatments at the lowest cost, and vaccinate their most at-risk as rapidly as possible such as healthcare providers and the elderly, Yunus said.

For this reason, almost 100 countries are supporting a proposal at the World Trade Organization this month to issue a broad-based general waiver on patents and other IP rights to all Covid-19 vaccines and medical technologies.

A binding agreement to allow the vaccine to be patent-free could transform the situation dramatically by sending a clear message that the vaccine is a global common good.

Since his first appeal in June, Yunus joined the People’s Vaccine Alliance and has been working with many global organisations such as UNAIDS and Oxfam to reach out to the United Nations, government leaders, and decision-makers.

Yunus, along with other members of the Alliance, initiated a draft resolution for the UN General Assembly to declare Covid-19 vaccines a global common good, reads a press release.

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