Demonstrators urge government to back vaccine patent waiver

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Campaigners have demanded that the British government should lift its opposition to a vaccine patent waiver that would allow poor countries to create their own coronavirus jabs.

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In protest of Britain’s stand on the issue, dozens of protesters gathered outside parliament on Tuesday evening and carried coffins to Downing Street as a symbol of the lives being lost due to vaccine inequality.

On the shoulders of black-clad protesters, four coffins laden with flowers carried the messages “Quit Patent” and “End pharma greed”.


A year ago, India and South Africa asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to consider temporarily waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines so that the world’s most needy people can be vaccinated faster. Can you

Although dozens of countries have now supported the proposal, a handful of countries, including the European Union and the UK, have opposed the move.

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Global Justice Now, the campaign group that led the demonstration, says the UK government should revise its position, pointing out that 3.5 million people have died from the virus globally since the policy was first proposed . This is equivalent to 10,000 people dying daily from Kovid-19.

Nick Dearden, the organization’s director, highlighted the disparity in vaccination rates between rich and poor countries, noting that the UK has more fully immunized citizens than 132 other countries.

According to Global Justice Now, while the UK population is just 68.2 million, the other 132 countries have a total population of over 1 billion.

“We think it’s morally obscene. It’s also very silly and short-sighted: the more this virus is allowed to run unchecked in some parts of the world, the more it will mutate and we will eventually become a Will end up with a version that exceeds the vaccines we get here,” Mr Dearden said.

Global Justice Now boss Nick Dearden stands at the forefront of the march.

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Global Justice Now boss Nick Dearden stands at the forefront of the march.

He said the UK and Germany are key members of the group that stand against patent exemptions.

However, Germany, the EU country most said to be against exemptions, may be softening under a new government. If it does, Britain will be even more so.

Alina Ivanova, campaign officer for Global Justice Now, stressed that the situation was “unstable” for both the global South and the rest of the world.

“The pandemic has shown that this is a very interconnected world. The loss of lives and the long-term economic impact of the pandemic will come back to bite us. “

Ms Ivanova said the coffin, which was accompanied by sombre violin music to Whitehall, was used to “bring home the message that we have put the lives of real people at risk who have to be saved over the past 12 months.” could”.

Diormade McDonald’s of Just Treatment, a group that campaigns for health over corporate profits, drew a similar, if more strongly worded, rebuke. “The complicity of the UK government in this means they have blood on their hands. They are expanding the pandemic,” he said.

Protesters carry a coffin outside the Gate of Downing Street on Tuesday evening.

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Protesters carry a coffin outside the Gate of Downing Street on Tuesday evening.

A government spokesperson said the UK is proud to have played a leading role in the global effort to manufacture and distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

He also said Britain would engage “constructively” on the issue of exemptions, but stressed that the world needed to focus on expanding its existing vaccine delivery system.

Fiona Kors, one of the protesters who took part in the march, said she was disappointed with the UK’s approach to a possible exemption.

“I was hoping that when America changes its position, we will follow suit. But that didn’t happen, which is really disappointing.” Granthshala. “It’s an emergency – people are dying. People should come before profits.”

Mr Dearden, head of Global Justice Now, said the situation was reminiscent of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1990s and 2000s, when drug benefits came in the way of treating thousands of people.

But he said he is optimistic that change is coming. “If I have hope, it is that at least we will learn lessons from this pandemic and fundamentally change the way drug research and development works,” he said.


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