The European Union should work internationally and take the lead to urgently end inequality in access to vaccines. This was the key message today from Renew Europe, in a debate in the European Parliament on the worrying inequalities in vaccination, with more than 80% of available vaccines distributed to rich countries, while poor countries receive only 0.2% of the deliveries.
The President of the United States has proposed to lift patents to facilitate access to vaccines. This proposal needs to be considered, but it is unlikely to be a short term solution on its own. We can start thinking about this proposed WTO TRIPS waiver for vaccines because this health crisis will not be the last. It is within the framework of the WTO that the discussions will take place, but it is a long and complex process that awaits us. We must act now to deliver a global vaccine strategy if we are to avoid the risks of a perpetual pandemic.
Dacian Cioloş, President of Renew Europe said : “Given the urgency of vaccinating the world's population quickly, the real question is: what is being done to facilitate access to vaccines for all now? Joe Biden's proposal to lift patents addresses an important question, but provides only a beginning of answer. Our full answer must be to put in place an international vaccine solidarity plan as soon as possible.”
Renew Europe advocates for a global vaccine strategy which must be based on 3 priorities :
- Develop production capacities. This is a battle that Europe is fighting on its own territory. But we must also consider the development of production capacities in vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa.
- Encourage donations of doses. Several countries have already made commitments, we must increase the effort and provide the Covax Facility with the necessary financial resources. It is currently the only instrument of vaccine solidarity at the global level.
- Lift export restrictions. The European Union exports half of the vaccines it produces, and we encourage our partners, particularly the United States, to contribute to this effort by authorising exports of vaccines and the ingredients needed to produce them.
Samira Rafaela (D66, Netherlands), Renew vice coordinator at the Committee on International Trade and member of the vaccine contact group said :
“Actively scaling up global production should be our top priority to get out of the global pandemic. The EU must engage in constructive dialogue for a temporary waiver of certain aspects of the TRIPS agreement in the World Trade Organization. I call on the Council and the Commission to keep a comprehensive approach towards expanding global production.”
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