The European Union says no to patent-free COVID jabs for Africa

At a summit in Africa overshadowed by the Sudan upheaval, EU members reportedly blocked mention of waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents to combat the pandemic.

After talks in Kigali, 68 African and EU foreign ministers stated in a joint communiqué that there was a need to wrap up talks about how the World Trade Organisation (WTO) can help ramp-up production, and ensure equitable distribution of Covid-19-related health solutions, and technology transfer.

Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign affairs chief, addressed the press and stated that the EU recognized, as did everyone else, that there is an unbridgeable immunization gap between Europe and Africa that must be bridged.

And, given scientific concerns that new coronavirus strains might emerge in Africa, where just 5% of people have been vaccinated, and subsequently spread to Europe, solving the problem is not merely a moral obligation.

The African Union (AU), on the other hand, had hoped for a higher degree of ambition.

In prior drafts of the communiqué it had requested EU support for a selective and time-limited Trips Waiver on vaccinations. The term "trips" refers to issues of intellectual property rights that are relevant to trade.

In previous drafts, EU nations had also signed in support for measures including; trade-related elements of intellectual property.

At the Kigali summit, BioNTech, a German company, signed an agreement with Rwanda to capitalize on the pandemic by constructing a vaccine manufacturing unit in the nation next year.

According to the Geneva-based medical organization, Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders), any mention of patent waivers was removed from the ultimate declaration owing to pressure by EU governments with significant links to pharmaceutical industries, such as Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, and Ireland.

According to Caritas, a Roman Catholic charitable organization, the EU must fulfill its commitments for donations and subsequently support the Trips waiver.

Source credit: https://euobserver.com/world/153371