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Big Pharma strikes back: right & liberals delay MEP vote on TRIPS waiver

Every day almost 10,000 people are dying of Covid-19*. Every day the European Commission says “it’s not the time to talk about lifting patents”, lives are being lost. Inaction is killing people. We don’t have time for petty tactics to delay a much needed European Parliament vote on a TRIPS waiver to enable the sharing of intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. 

Today, we witnessed yet another outrageous delay from the EU on access to vaccines in Parliament’s Conference of Presidents of political groups. The Left – together with the Greens and S&D – demanded a debate and vote on the TRIPS waiver in next week’s plenary session. While the debate will finally go ahead on Wednesday 19th May , the vote (the only way Parliament can take a position on this) was pushed back to June by the Renew, ECR and EPP groups. 

“We have been requesting a vote on the TRIPS waiver for months, and each month there has been a postponement.”

“We had hoped that the Biden administration’s announcement would have encouraged the political groups in the European Parliament to take the action the world needs so desperately today. Unfortunately this was not the case. Delaying this vote to June is shameful. Once again the forces of the right in the European Parliament (EPP, ECR and Renew) decide to give priority to Big Pharma and its profits over the lives of millions of people,” Left Co-President Martin Schirdewan said.

For Co-President Manon Aubry, today’s decision shows the real interests served by some political groups:

“EPP, ECR, ID and Renew’s refusal to vote on a resolution on the TRIPS waiver next week is irresponsible. Because of their veto, the Parliament won’t have any official position before the next WTO meeting, dedicated to intellectual property rights on vaccines. So much time has already been lost: we cannot postpone this crucial decision while thousands of people die every day because of the worldwide shortage of vaccines. Once again, the right is showing it only serves the interests of Big Pharma and lobbies.”

The recent US declaration in support of lifting patents on Covid-19 vaccines created a domino effect among liberal and progressive forces in Europe, with some openings “to discuss the US proposal”. Today’s decision reveals the true priorities at play: take time, stall, and protect the interests of Big Pharma over the right to health. 

The Left will keep standing alongside the thousands of people and social movements across the world demanding vaccines as a global common good. 

 

* Global deaths as of 10/05/2021 = 3,288,455
Total deaths from 1/10/2020 = 2,277,816
Between 1/10/20 and 17/05/21 = 229 days 
9,946 deaths a day 
414 deaths every hour 
7 deaths every minute

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