What you should know
Even after governments provided billions to pharma corporations to create COVID-19 vaccines, because of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, where and how much vaccine is produced around the world is determined solely by the pharmaceutical firms. Experts estimate that we need 22 billion mRNA vaccine doses to crush the virus in 2022 but Big Pharma only plans to produce 7 billion, condemning the world to an endless pandemic. More than 100 nations led by South Africa and India are proposing a temporary, emergency waiver of these WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) rules, so governments and manufacturers worldwide can ramp up production of the vaccines, treatments and tests necessary to end the pandemic. The Trump administration led a handful of WTO members to block the waiver. On May 5, the Biden administration made history in announcing it would support the waiver for vaccines, but the European Union, pushed by Germany, is still blocking the waiver.
There is still more work to do to get a comprehensive waiver that temporarily removes all IP barriers for COVID-19 vaccines, as well as diagnostic tests, treatments, personal protective equipment, and other COVID-19 specific health technologies as quickly as possible. COVID outbreaks anywhere mean more infectious, more deadly and vaccine-resistant virus variants can develop. We are in a race against time.
No one is safe until everyone is safe.