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First Minister backs the waiving of intellectual property rights on Covid vaccines and writes to Prime Minister

On 7th December, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon publicly backed the temporary waiving of intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines, in a decision that the Alliance supports as a step towards supporting lower-income countries.

In her response to a question from Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, the First Minister said:

“I do support the calls of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. I certainly call on the Prime Minister to take whatever action he can to ensure that we get vaccines equitably to the population of the world as quickly as possible. I also take very seriously the responsibility on the shoulders of my government to make sure we are doing everything possible.

Covid is a global crisis. It is very understandable that often we focus on the implications for ourselves and our own country, but it is an unprecedented global crisis. Earlier in the pandemic, the government allocated funding for our own international development budget to provide Covid support for partner countries Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, and Pakistan. The UK also participates in Covax, which is an important way to help other nations access vaccines.”

Today, a letter was sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from the office of the First Minister, urging him to support plans for open sharing of vital vaccine information.

Jamie Livingstone, at Oxfam Scotland responds:

“It’s welcome to see the First Minister standing up for the millions of people around the world who are shamefully being denied access to lifesaving vaccines as a result of corporate greed and secrecy.

Unless the Prime Minister backs measures to ensure that vaccine recipes and technology are shared globally, the latest anti-Covid measures being implemented across the UK risk being completely undermined, with us all trapped in a never ending hamster wheel of responding to potentially vaccine resistant variants.  

It shouldn’t be up to pharmaceutical company bosses to decide who lives and who dies while their companies pocket billions of dollars. The Prime Minister must end his self-defeating opposition to the global action that’s needed to break up their monopoly control over vaccine supply. In doing so, he can send an unequivocal message: that access to a life-saving vaccine shouldn’t depend on where you live or how much money you have in your pocket.”

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