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Former Heads of State and Nobel Laureates Call on Biden to Waive Intellectual Property Rules for COVID-19 Vaccines

Read the letter and see the full list of signatories here.

On April 14, the People’s Vaccine Alliance sent a letter to The White House and to the US Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, signed by former Heads of State and Government and Nobel Laureates who expressed “[grave] concern by the very slow progress in scaling up global COVID-19 vaccine access and inoculation in low- and middle-income countries.”

The letter calls for urgency from the Biden Administration to “put the collective right to safety for all ahead of the commercial monopolies of the few.” This urgent action entails supporting temporary waiver of World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual property rules during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is openly shared through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Technology Access Pool. Further, these key actions “should be accompanied by coordinated global investment in research, development, and manufacturing capacity to tackle this pandemic and prepare us for future ones, as part of a more robust international health architecture.”

The letter was launched in Financial Times and has seem an incredible amount of support and commentary. In an opinion piece in USA Today (and in El Pais in Spanish), President Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, notes the “industrious role of the intellectual property system”, but shows why waiving COVID-19 monopolies is necessary alongside other asks. President Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, in The Times, called on EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders to suspend vaccine patents to end the pandemic.

175 former heads of state and government and Nobel Laureates from across the globe signed the letter.

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