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MSF statement on G7 summit discussions on pandemic response
10 June 2021- “Ongoing widespread transmission of the virus in regions with poor access to treatment, vaccines, testing and other protections means COVID-19 continues to claim thousands of lives each day and viral variants develop more easily, pushing health systems in many countries where MSF works to the brink of collapse. It’s precisely the actions of the G7 governments, among others, that have led to the grave global inequities we see in access to COVID-19 medical tools now, despite several of these leaders having stated early on that such tools should be treated as ‘global public goods’".
“While several G7 countries are well on their way to getting back to ‘normal,’ having pursued herd immunity strategies before sharing doses with others, most low- and middle-income countries have been left empty-handed as they face additional deadly waves of disease.
G7 countries, which have ordered many more vaccines than they need, should immediately share as many doses as possible with low- and middle-income countries.
Every day that passes is another missed opportunity to protect millions of people globally from this killer disease.
With vaccine manufacturers shifting their responsibility of legal liabilities to countries in the event of serious adverse events, governments and humanitarian organisations have been put in a precarious situation by this unacceptable transfer of risk.
The onus of such responsibility must not be pushed on to organisations that are willing to vaccinate and should not become a barrier for people who need them.
"G7 leaders must act in solidarity and support necessary measures to ensure that each country has sufficient tools to save as many lives as possible in this pandemic"
As vaccination has started around the world, albeit mainly in developed countries, there is nonetheless a wealth of data that should be used to revisit the issue of liability and indemnification.
This is not about a simple business transaction but about saving lives and preserving health.
It is time for manufacturers to resume their responsibility for their own products, and for governments, including the G7, to exercise their authority in making this a reality.
"It's time for change, not charity"
During the pandemic, we’ve repeatedly seen how control of global production and supply of lifesaving medical tools based on intellectual property and technology ownership by a handful of multinational pharmaceutical corporations has created multiple obstacles for countries to secure reliable access.
G7 leaders have so far not shown any willingness to break from the status quo and exert influence on pharmaceutical corporations for sharing the technology that was largely developed with public funding.
G7 governments must urgently work with other governments to use all policy options available to facilitate and mandate transparent, unconditional, enforceable and full transfer of technologies of COVID-19 medical tools, particularly vaccines, by companies they host to manufacturers in all regions, and especially in low- and middle-income countries, in order to ensure access for everyone, everywhere.
It’s time for change, not charity.
It is regrettable that over half of the G7 leaders continue to ignore low- and middle-income countries’ demands to be self-reliant in the production and supply of medicines, vaccines and diagnostics needed to tackle the pandemic.
Instead, they keep blocking critical decisions in multilateral fora to lift corporate monopolies in the pandemic to facilitate global production and diversification of supply, such as the proposed temporary COVID-19 intellectual property waiver at the World Trade Organization.
G7 leaders must act in solidarity and support necessary measures to ensure that each country has sufficient tools to save as many lives as possible in this pandemic."