(New York, September 14, 2021) – Wealthy governments and pharmaceutical companies are undermining a rapid and equitable public health response to Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutic drugs, and tests, Human Rights Watch researchers said in a paper published ahead of a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting this week. Human Rights Watch also released a video about the subject. Governments and companies should urgently share knowledge and technology to save lives, protect the right to health, and ensure everyone can benefit from scientific research, especially with the highly contagious Delta variant.
The paper, “COVID-19 Exposes Warped Global Health Power: The System Needs a Course Correction,” published on August 31, 2021 in the Business and Human Rights Journal, discusses how a handful of high-income countries that were lobbied by powerful pharmaceutical companies have stalled a proposal to temporarily waive global trade and intellectual property rules to expand access to lifesaving vaccines and other health care products. Drawing upon Human Rights Watch research and analysis on Covid-19 vaccine supply issues, it shows how governments have abdicated their responsibility to regulate pharmaceutical companies. Governments funding Covid-19 vaccine development with public money failed to condition these funds on affordability and sharing technology, leaving companies to decide how, when, and where they will manufacture, distribute, and price vaccines, Human Rights Watch said. Instead of sharing knowledge and technology, some governments are redistributing an inadequate amount of vaccines to poorer countries while letting companies set prices.
Covid-19 vaccines should be available to everyone who wants them.
Three-quarters of the world’s vaccines have gone to just ten countries.
In places with little access to vaccines, the virus is spreading unchecked leading to many deaths.
While some rich governments move to give out third booster shots, many people in pooere countries are still waiting for their first dose.
A proposal at the World Trade Organization would temporarily waive some intellectual property rules for vaccines and other health products.
That could enable more factories around the world to make Covid—19 vaccines and other lifesaving health care.
But the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Japan are blocking the waiver.
The global vaccines shortage is an urgent human rights crisis.
The world will not emerge from this pandemic until everyone has access to Covid-19 vaccines.