Labor claimed ministers risked the emergence of other variants of Covid like Omicron by thwarting an offer from poorer countries to make their own vaccines.
The British government has “actively prevented countries in Africa and the developing world from making their own vaccines” by opposing an intellectual property rights waiver for Covid vaccines, according to the party.
Rich countries are divided over the proposal for a temporary waiver, first launched last year by India and South Africa. While the United States, Australia and New Zealand supported the idea, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Switzerland opposed it.
Gareth Thomas, the shadow trade minister, wrote to Penny Mordaunt accusing Boris Johnson’s administration of helping to prevent a move that would increase vaccination in underprivileged countries and reduce the risk of further mutations.
“I am writing to ask why the government continues to block solutions to the Covid pandemic, given the severity of the crisis affecting the NHS and the economy caused by the rapidly escalating levels of Omicron cases? He wrote to Mordaunt, the trade minister for policy.
“The people of our country will not be safe from new variants of Covid until global solutions are in place, levels of vaccination around the world are significantly higher and levels of infections. in the developing world will not be weaker. A [intellectual property rights] waiver is important to achieve this.
Over 100 countries, Pope Francis, experts from the UN, global civil society organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières and human rights advocates have supported the call from India and the South Africa in favor of a temporary waiver of key elements of trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (travel) Agreement, which helps pharmaceutical companies exploit the new drugs they produce.
The negotiations, supervised by the World Trade Organization (WTO), have made little progress.
Earlier this month, the government reiterated its opposition to the plan. He told the Trips council that he was one of the countries “convinced … that a proposed exemption from Trips would not increase the number of vaccines reaching the arms of the people” and, if implemented, would pose “risks … for this pandemic and the future” to stifle pharmaceutical innovation.
A British government spokesperson confirmed that he was not in favor of a waiver. “The UK has initiated discussions on intellectual property (IP) and a possible WTO travel waiver, and we will continue to do so in a constructive manner. An adequate intellectual property system has been crucial in supporting the rapid development of new vaccines, and a waiver would risk undermining the framework’s ability to do so and could discourage future investment in research and development, ”they said.
“The UK has been a world leader in ensuring that developing countries can access vaccines through our investment in Oxford / AstraZeneca, early support for the Covax program [to provide vaccines to poorer countries] and the commitment to donate vaccines, ”they added.