People are queuing in vehicles when they arrive at California State University in Los Angeles for vaccinations on March 4th. Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

The rich countries vaccinate one person against Covid-19 every second, while the majority of their poorest colleagues have not yet given a single dose, the People’s Vaccine Alliance said on Tuesday.

The same rich nations are blocking efforts by developing countries to surrender intellectual property rights to Covid-19 vaccines, the alliance said. The World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) committee meets on Wednesday to discuss the TRIPS waiver.

“We should act now. There is no going back. It is totally unfair that rich countries, with enough vaccines to protect their citizens, are blocking the TRIPS waiver, which could help poorer countries get the vaccines they need, ”said Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Prize winner and one of the leaders of the Folk Vaccine Alliance.
“For the rich world, this proposed act of human solidarity to ensure drugs and vaccines get to the entire human family at the same time is in their own interest, and not just an act of charity.”

The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a group of organizations including Oxfam International, Frontline AIDS, UNAIDS, and others, says this is another example of rich countries putting the interests of large pharmaceutical monopolies before people’s lives.

“By letting a small group of pharmaceutical companies decide who lives and who dies, the rich nations are prolonging this unprecedented global health emergency and bringing countless more lives into question,” said Gabriela Bucher, chief executive officer of Oxfam.

“At this crucial time, developing countries need support – not opposition.”

The proposed TRIPS-Wavier would remove legal barriers and allow manufacturers around the world to start producing vaccines on a large scale in months, the alliance said.