‘Continued opposition to TRIPS waiver’ on vaccines ‘violation of human rights’; Call to end ‘vaccine apartheid’

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By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 30 November 2021: The world is in panic because of the new ‘Omicron’ variant from South Africa. Many travel and other restrictions have come back. But reports suggest more than 45 % of global population has not even received even one dose of the Covid-19 vaccines available.

High-income countries have cornered vaccine stocks and are even gearing up for boosters after the two doses. ‘Omicron’ could be dangerous or not, will be soon known. Delta may be going and ‘Omicron’ coming but the pandemic is still there.’Vaccine apartheid’, it seems’ has taken a massive toll of human lives.

India and South Africa’s call for a waiver of intellectual property rights (IPR) of vaccines was supported by US President Biden and heeded only by a few including Australia, but the European Union, the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, and Singapore look in no mood to help humanity fight out it’s greatest challenge in decades.

The Global Nurses United, a global union of nurses unions and Progressive International in a complaint to the UN has called the opposition to TRIPS waiver “…the violation of human rights of peoples across the world.”

“Covid-19 cases continue to soar in numerous parts of the world, while pharmaceutical companies and governments have failed to ensure that critical treatments and vaccines are distributed equitably in order to respond to the pandemic,” the nurses’ unions wrote. “High-income countries have procured upwards of 7 billion confirmed vaccine doses, while low-income countries have only been able to procure approximately 300 million doses. This has created what public health advocates around the world have described as ‘vaccine
apartheid,” the complaint says.

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Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Physical and Mental Health, welcomed the nurses position.

“The nurses’ core demand is one I share: States have a collective responsibility to use all available means to facilitate faster access to vaccines, including by introducing a temporary waiver of relevant intellectual property rights under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement),” she said. “Nurses and health care workers have been on the front line keeping us safe and have witnessed the most painful and heart-wrenching effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Their evident commitment to the right to physical and mental health provides them with moral authority.”

Signers of the petition include leading nurse/health care unions from Australia (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation), Brazil (Federação Nacional dos Enfermeiros), Canada (Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec), Costa Rica (Asociación Nacional de Profesionales en Enfermería [A.N.P.E.]), Curacao (Curaçaose Bond Van Werknemers in Verplegende en Verzorgende Instgellingen), Dominican Republic (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Enfermería), Greece (Pan-Hellenic Federation of Nursing Staff (PASONOP), Guatemala (Sindicato Nacional de los Trabajadores de Salud de Guatemala), Honduras (Asociación Nacional de Enfermeras/os Auxiliares de Honduras), India (United Nurses Association), Ireland (Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation), Israel (Israeli Nurses Association), Italy (Nursind), Kenya (Kenya National Union of Nurses), Malawi (National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi), New Zealand (New Zealand Nurses Organisation), Paraguay (Asociación Paraguaya de Enfermería), Philippines (Filipino Nurses United), Portugal (Sindicato dos Enfermeiros Portugueses), Rwanda (Rwanda Nurses and Midwives Union), South Africa (The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa [DENOSA]), South Korea (Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union), Spain (Sindicato de Enfermería [SATSE]), Sri Lanka (Government Nursing Officers’ Association), Taiwan (Taiwan Nurses Union), Uganda (Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union), the United States (National Nurses United), and Uruguay (Sindicato Unico de Enfermería del Uruguay [SUEU]).

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE COMPLAINT AND COVER LETTER HERE

On 30 November, 2021 the world had 261,924,996 corona cases, total deaths 5,204,733 and total vaccines administered stood at 7,637,667,194, according to the John Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard (DASHBOARD SITE). Many countries have reportedly fudged the statistics.The pandemic is not yet over and many areas including Africa remain sparsely vaccinated or yet to surge in double doses.

So, a TRIPS waiver by all countries is essential to allow the vital manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines in low and moderate income countries to beat the global pandemic.

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16336526731883929
Neeraj Nanda

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