With Covid-19 vaccinations proceeding at snail’s pace across the EU, the Left group in the European Parliament is ramping up pressure on the EU to make vaccines a public good.
Starting today, a two-day online initiative will bring together parliamentarians, experts, trade unionists and civil society to challenge the patent regime giving billions of euros in profits to pharmaceutical corporations while preventing mass production of Covid-19 vaccines to effectively fight the pandemic. A key focus of the event will be the TRIPS agreement regulating Intellectual Property Rights, which countries in the Global South want to see waived but which the EU, alongside the US, continue to block. With the Commission failing citizens by allowing pharmaceutical corporations to control supply of vaccines, MEP Kateřina Konečná (KSČM, Czechia) sees this an opportunity to mobilise forces against the status quo: “This forum comes at a critical time during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are constantly hearing from different sides that the pandemic cannot be fought effectively because of the protection of patents on vaccines and medicines. We want to question the protection of intellectual property rights with experts from within the EU and beyond, and look for answers that unfortunately the competent authorities are not able to give us. I hope to come up with concrete solutions that will provide a vaccine for all.”
For Marc Botenga (PTB, Belgium), it’s a scandal that pharmaceutical companies are able to rake in billions of euros in profits from the pandemic:
“Pfizer foresees $15 billion additional revenue this year, with a profit margin of 30 percent. The CEO of AstraZeneca was just paid $21.5 million. Yet we lack vaccines everywhere. The only thing not delayed in this crisis are the profits of Big Pharma. These profits are only possible because they refuse to share vaccine technology. “According to Oxfam, today we use only 43% of the existing vaccine production capacity worldwide. Yet, that technology was developed with public subsidies, our tax money. Our health is too important to leave it in the hands of pharmaceutical multinationals. Our aim is to explore alternatives, and consider all the arguments in support of the European Citizens’ Initiative: www.noprofitonpandemic.eu,” Botenga concluded.