EPSU welcomes WHO decision to work on the pandemic treaty and calls for #TRIPS waiver

WHO Pandemic treaty and TRIPS waiver

(6 December 2021) The World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of WHO, decided to establish an intergovernmental negotiating body for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.  EPSU welcomes this decision adopted by the member states with a consensus which is a crucial step to protect the world from future infectious diseases crises. COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how our society is unprepared for such a disease and how vital to set up well-funded public health and care systems to combat this unprecedented global crisis. Such a draft for the future must draw lessons from austerity and privatisation policies and must ensure the public ownership of health systems.

However, tackling the current pandemic is as essential as combating future pandemics. The vast majority of the world population have no access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. While the profits of big pharma companies are skyrocketing, people are losing their life although it is possible to prevent them. “The World Together”, which is also the title of the Special Session of WHA, is the motivation we need to overcome vaccine inequality. The world must stand together. The world must show solidarity. The response must also be global to tackle this crisis. However, the intellectual property on the COVID-19 vaccines and treatments not only provides record profits to the vaccine producers but also results in about 10,000 deaths per day. Unequal access to vaccines is deepening global inequalities. We call for putting people’s life first, not the companies’ profits. Therefore, EPSU strongly supports Dr. Tedros Adhanom, WHO Director-General, on his call for “Member States to choose to remove every barrier to scaling up vaccine production, by sharing technology and know-how, and by supporting a waiver of intellectual property rights” in his closing remarks at the Special Session of the WHA on the 1st December 2021. The “waiver” of intellectual property for COVID-19 vaccines is direly needed to increase the production and its accessibility for all people across the globe.

In the dawn of a new variant and rising numbers of death tolls, EPSU calls on the EU and European countries to:

  • Protect health as a public good and prohibit private companies from making a profit from the pandemic;
  • Stop blocking the #TRIPSwaiver and ensure the accessibility of the vaccines for all citizens across the globe;
  • Increase investment in health and social care systems,
  • Introduce measures to ensure adequate, needs–based level of health and care personnel (safe staffing level), and improve safety and working conditions.

You can sign the European Citizens' Initiative's call to the European Commission to support the waiver here.

-  For the Letter from EPSU General Secretary to EC President re the WTO TRIPS waiver (08.12.2021)
-  For the REPLY Valdis Dombrovskis to Letter from EPSU General Secretary re the WTO TRIPS waiver (10.02.2022)