EU-wide citizens’ initiative demands abolition of patents on anti-pandemic vaccines

The initiative is part of a wider international movement that seeks to define water, knowledge and algorithms as universally accessible public goods – as commons

The sentiment in the EU for the abolition of patents on coronavirus vaccines and against big pharmaceutical companies is increasing, after the spat between the EC and the COVID-19 vaccine producers over their insufficient production and deliveries. An EU-wide citizens’ initiative is demanding that the European Commission does everything in its power “to make anti-pandemic vaccines and treatments a global public good, freely accessible to everyone.” 

A number of EU and national civil society and political organisations have joined the initiative and supported the abolition of patent rights over essential medical products under the slogan “No profit on pandemic”. That is how the monopoly on the production of essentials will be eliminated, their mass production will be eased and will take place at lower cost. The petition also wants transparency on data on “production costs, public contributions and the effectiveness and safety of vaccines and medicines. Respectively, the contracts between public authorities and pharmaceutical companies must be made public.” 

The citizens’ initiative points out that taxpayers paid for the research and development of vaccines and treatment. Therefore, “what has been paid for by the people should remain in [the] people’s hands” and big pharmaceutical companies shouldn’t be allowed “to privatize crucial health technologies that have been developed with public resources.” Solidarity and not private profiteering should be the key to the crisis response.   

The citizens’ initiative is supported by global and EU civil society organisations such as Agora of the Inhabitants of the Earth, Corporate Europe Observatory, European Alternatives, Oxfam International, The Left political group in the European Parliament and many other organisations and protagonists. It is currently gathering signatures with the aim of reaching one million EU citizens. One of its stated aims is to speed up production of essential medical products, so that the EU and the world will be able to end the pandemic faster. 

The signatures from countries such as Bulgaria and Romania are very few, which is in contradiction to popular sentiment against corporations in these two countries. The citizens’ initiative could also be seen as part of a wider movement for the treatment of essential products for life such as water, knowledge and algorithms as public goods, as commons – a movement which works for the benefit of the many, not the few. It is also part of the international movement for free and accessible anti-COVID-19 vaccines which is fighting at the level of international organisations, but remains almost unknown in the region of Southeastern Europe. 

In January the Barricade wrote about how the geopolitical vaccine war is caused by profit making. It now urges its readers to support the citizens’ initiative “No profit on pandemic” as a means to participate in an EU-wide campaign for civil and human rights, against profiteering from people’s suffering!

Photo: The poster of the initiative (source: No Profit on Pandemic)

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