When African and European leaders are about to meet in a new summit (17-18Feb), the moment to guarantee equal access to vaccines, test and treatments in every country is now.

Lives before profits: only a TRIPS waiver will stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 16 months and 5 millions deaths later, European Union indecently keep blocking TRIPs waiver proposal.
  • While 70 percent of the Europeans are fully vaccinated only 11 percent of residents in African countries are.
  • Médecins du Monde (MDM) join hundreds of civil society organisations asking EU to end their blockade now.

Ahead of the African Union – European Union Summit we strongly support African leaders asking the European Union to finally end their blockade of a comprehensive TRIPS waiver of patents on COVID-19 tools. Stop putting profits before lives and end the unjustifiable inequality when it comes to access to COVID-19 counter measures.

While 70 percent of the Europeans are fully vaccinated only 11 percent of residents in African countries are (source). Due to restrictive patents laws and regulations limiting production for COVID-19 vaccines and other medical tools we still face a great gap between supply and need of those products.

Over a year ago, countries like South Africa and India have addressed this issue demanding for a temporary waiver of specific Covid-19 related patents. The EU is thus ignoring the insistent demands of now more than 100 countries – including some EU countries such as Spain and Italy – the World Health Organisation, several Nobel Prize winners and religious leaders, former heads of state, legal experts, civil society and even the European Parliament itself (in a resolution of 25 November 2021).

This needs to end now. That is why we join hundreds of civil society organisations around the world asking the EU to finally end their blockade of a TRIPS waiver and confirm this intention at the AU-EU Summit.

Non solo vaccini

Vaccines are live-savers, but access to diagnostic tests and therapeutic drugs for adequate treatment is also a necessity. Although some World Trade Organisation (WTO) members have supported an intellectual property exemption, this is only for vaccines. We therefore underline the importance of testing and treatment to control COVID-19 infections, as reflected in the letter MDM has just sent to the WTO.

The pandemic demonstrates the interconnectedness of the planet and the fate of its inhabitants. Yet, in these trying times, political leaders seem to lack the courage to change what we know is wrong and fail to do the right thing. As an humanitarian NGO, we advocate for a proactive global response that gives all people the best possible access to health care; a chance to live and thrive. The well-being of people must take precedence over the profit of industry in every political decision.