During the World Health Assembly the governments of the World are being called upon to guarantee that once a vaccination becomes available, it will be accessible for all and free of charge. The proposed resolution suggests so far an override of corporate patent rights in the interest of public health. Furthermore the WHO should come up with solutions for scaling up global manufacturing and distribution capacity for vaccines, tests and treatments. Commenting on a draft of a resolution which was discussed by Health Ministers at the World Health Assembly, Heinz Bierbaum, the President of the European Left Party, said:
”I welcome initiatives which aim on tightening an international cooperation, finding common solution for the current global health crisis and acknowledging that vaccines, treatments and test are global public goods. Nevertheless the proposed resolution remains problematic. The discussed solution neither requires pharmaceutical corporations to pool their patents – which would allow access to manufacture or to import affordable copies – nor guarantees a free of charge asset to vaccines, medicines or tests. Poorer countries, fragile economies and individuals are left alone to face the pandemic. Leaving anyone unprotected will only deepen the global health and economic crisis and puts million lives at risk.
At the moment, when global solidarity is crucial, we all should support solution based on the principle of open access. Open data, open science and open collaboration are needed so that all people can benefit form science and research. The idea that the market can solve this crisis is an illusion. The agenda on the development of drugs needed to fight COVID-19 can’t be left in the hand of the markets, which only follows the idea of profits, despite using public funding to develop the medicine. We can’t let capitalist’s greed collide with public health.
The COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, tests and treatments must be provided free of charge to everyone and the access needs to be prioritized: first for front-line workers, the most vulnerable people, and for poor countries with the least capacity to save lives. No one can be left behind! We need to put peoples lives over the greed for profits!”