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COVID-19: SJM demands patent waiver for vaccines, medicines

Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has urged the World Trade Organization (WTO) to relax the provisions of its Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement for patent free access to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.

SJM said it is organising 3,000 programmes, along with several organisations of workers, farmers, small traders, industry organisations, academic institutions and civil society groups, in 20 countries, including India, on June 20 to support its ‘Patent Free Vaccine’ campaign.

The campaigners want global pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily transfer technology, raw material sources and trade secrets to other pharma companies to facilitate production of vaccines and medicines free from patents. They also asked governments to use their sovereign rights to license more pharmaceutical firms to make vaccines, and exhorted  citizens, parliamentarians, civil society organisations, opinion makers, academicians and others to support this campaign for humanity.

“In the last 16 months, 38.76 lakh people worldwide and 3.87 lakh people in India have died due to COVID-19. Though countries like Israel, US, UK, Norway etc. have almost controlled fresh infections and deaths from corona by vaccinating majority of their adult population, most of the countries are still reeling under the pandemic. To protect people from corona, the world needs about 14 billion vaccine doses, whereas in the last about 6 months, only 200 crore doses of vaccines could be produced by all eight pharma companies,” SJM said.

“At the current rate, it may take another two-three years for the world’s eligible population to be vaccinated. It is imperative to vaccinate all the people all over the globe at a much faster pace, because ‘no one will be safe until everyone is safe’,” SJM added.

According to SJM, patent law and intellectual property rights under the provisions of TRIPS of WTO are an impediment to the mass production of COVID-19 vaccines as they do not allow other pharma companies to manufacture these vaccines.  

“Patent laws need to be relaxed, even if it is for a limited period, to increase the production of vaccines and medicines to save the world’s 7.87-billion population from the clutches of corona. We at SJM believe that this is the right of every human being on this earth to get vaccines and medicines at affordable prices,” SJM said.

“It’s to be noted that while people along with their representatives, all around the world are one on this issue and are supporting the proposal of India and South Africa for TRIPS waiver for vaccines and medicines, greedy companies and their supporter governments in some countries are creating hurdles in the smooth passage of this resolution at WTO,” SJM said.

SJM said a signature campaign for ‘Universal Access to Vaccine and Medicines’ has so far got support of 14 lakh people from all over the country and the world, and a petition will be submitted to WTO, governments of different countries and also the companies coming in way for this noble cause of vaccine and medicines for all.

SJM expressed happiness over the decision of WTO in its meeting on June 9, 2021 to start text-based negotiations on TRIPS waiver, based on the proposal of India and South Africa.  


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