“Allowing countries to manufacture locally will expedite access to vaccines and treatment, prevent unnecessary deaths, expedite global vaccination efforts, and facilitate a stronger, faster economic recovery… Unfortunately, despite widespread support for its adoption, the Trump Administration led opposition to the waiver and, with a handful of other WTO signatories, has blocked its adoption,” the senators wrote on Thursday.
The proposal has received the support of around 120 countries but is being blocked by developed countries including the US, European Union and Switzerland, which see the waiver as detrimental to the interest of the pharmaceutical companies.
On Wednesday, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal had sought to address these concerns by arguing that this was a temporary relief. He had also underlined the need for unimpeded access to raw materials, a concern that was flagged by Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla on Thursday. The WHO and prominent global leaders have also supported India and South Africa’s proposal.
The senators argued that the pharma companies were seeing significant Covid-19 vaccine revenue in addition to the public funding and support they have already received while developing countries had to pay monopoly prices to the drug giants. “This harsh reality is already unfolding before our eyes with reports of South Africa paying more than double the price paid by the European Union for the AstraZeneca vaccine.”