2.5 mn Nurses including from Sri Lanka file UN complaint against high income countries for blocking Covid vaccine patents

November 29, 2021 at 5:39 PM

Nursing unions from 28 countries including Sri Lanka and territories representing over 2.5 million health workers have filed a complaint to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, accusing a number of high-income countries that have opposed a temporary TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization of a rights violation.

“These countries have violated our rights and the rights of our patients — and caused the loss of countless lives — of nurses and other caregivers and those we have cared for,” according to the letter.

A temporary TRIPS waiver would allow countries to manufacture COVID-19 products, such as vaccines and treatments, during the pandemic without seeking the consent of a patent holder. Proponents say this would help boost the production of COVID-19 technologies, helping address vaccine supply issues and inequities.In a letter submitted by Global Nurses United and Progressive International on behalf of nursing unions to the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, they urge the U.N. official to undertake a mission to investigate and determine how the actions of the European Union and its member states, the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, and Singapore by not supporting a waiver of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights,or TRIPS, at WTO “constitute a continuing breach of their obligations to guarantee the right to physical and mental health of everyone.”

But a number of high-income countries and pharmaceutical companies have opposed the waiver, saying patents are not the issue, but limited manufacturing capacity globally. Some also said waiving patents would not be enough as manufacturing COVID-19 products will also require technology transfers from originator companies. (WithInputsfrom Devex)