Dear Members of the Trade, Health and Development Committees of the European Parliament,
Dear Members of National Parliaments of European Union member states,
We, the undersigned civil society organisations, call on you to take actions in your capacity as a parliamentary member of the European Parliament (EP) or the national parliaments of European Union (EU) member states, to urge the European Commission (EC) to strongly support1 the adoption of the proposal for a temporary ‘Waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19’ (Waiver proposal) as submitted by India and South Africa, co-sponsored by Kenya and Eswatini, at the TRIPS Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
When COVID-19 was declared to be a pandemic, there was overwhelming consensus that there was an urgent need for international collaboration to speed up product development, scale up manufacturing, expand the supply of effective medical technologies and ensure everyone, everywhere is protected. At the EP, a resolution was adopted recognizing the need to ensure equal and affordable access for all people worldwide to future COVID-19 vaccines and treatments as soon as they are available, and reaffirming the use of the TRIPS flexibilities during this pandemic.i Several Heads of State also called for COVID-19 medical products to be treated as global public goods.
Despite the pressing needs and consensus, shortage of supply continues to occur while pharmaceutical companies at large continue to pursue a “business-as-usual” approach to intellectual property, limiting manufacturing and supply capacities. Indeed, industrial associations have openly rejected initiatives calling for voluntary contributions and open sharing of COVID-19 technologies.
A few countries, including EU member states Germany and Hungary, have revised their national laws to make it easier and quicker for governments to use any patented medical technologies when needed during the pandemic, alerting the need to address Intellectual Property (IP) barriers. However, when countries lack immediate manufacturing capacity for any of the essential parts for a product, including raw materials, components or packaging materials, removing IP barriers on one product in one country alone will not be sufficient. Therefore, a country-by-country and product-by-product approach of using the TRIPS flexibilities remains limited in addressing IP challenges in this pandemic.