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UN says countries that don’t renounce vaccine intellectual property rights violate the convention against racial discrimination.

The United Nations Committee against Racism appealed on Thursday (31) for rich countries, notably the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States, to renounce vaccine patents against COVID-19. According to the UN, countries that refuse to relinquish intellectual property rights violate a convention against racial discrimination.

Agreement to lift patents at the WTO

At a meeting held at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in June 2022, member countries had agreed in principle to authorize developing nations to suspend patents on vaccines against COVID-19 for five years.

According to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a group of 18 experts, more efforts are needed to reduce inequality between nations.

“It is not enough to fight against the high rates of morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19 among the people and groups most exposed to racial discrimination around the world”, they said in a statement published with the support of the Special Rapporteur of the Nations on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Ashwini K.P.

Low vaccination in poorer countries

  • According to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 32% of the world’s population received at least one booster dose or additional dose of vaccine.
  • But in some developing countries, that number is less than one percent.
  • This is the case in Gabon, Papua New Guinea, Burundi, and Madagascar.
  • However, negotiations on the subject were stalled, according to information from Medical Xpress.

UN charges rich countries

Rich countries’ “persistent refusal” to relinquish intellectual property rights “raises concerns” about their obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN committee added.

The document also points out that COVID-19 remains a severe public health problem, with “devastating” impacts that disproportionately affect people of African or Asian descent, ethnic minorities, Roma communities, and indigenous peoples.

Inequality could be “significantly mitigated” by sharing access to intellectual property rights for vaccines, treatments, and technologies “currently reserved by some countries in the global North,” concludes the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Source: Olhar Digital