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Flash mob wants European Commission to prioritise health over pharmaceutical profits

D 7 April 2021    


Press release - Wednesday 7 April 2021

Fifty health activists held a flash mob in front of the European Commission building. The activists visually portrayed the global unequal distribution of corona vaccines and the disproportionate influence pharmaceutical companies have on the European Commission.

The activists demand that the European Commission turn vaccine against Covid-19 a public good by lifting the patents and forcing pharmaceutical companies to share existing technologies. The action was initiated by the European Network against Commercialisation of Health and the European Citizens’ Initiative ’No Profit On Pandemic. The latter wants to collect 1 million signatures to force the European Commission into action. The action was supported by among others CNE, ABVV-SETCA, the Christian Mutuality, Hart boven Hard, ACV, the French-speaking Federation of District Health Centres, Viva Salud, the Action Platform Health and Solidarity, WSM, and Medicine for the People. On the occasion of World Health Day, actions took place all over Europe today.

Rich countries, representing only 14% of the world’s population, have so far reserved 53% of vaccines. Rapid worldwide distribution of the vaccine is not only ethically justified, but also medically necessary. A survey conducted by The People’s Vaccine Alliance found that two-thirds of epidemiologists surveyed warn that the coronavirus will mutate in a year or less to the point where most current vaccines become ineffective.

"The pandemic has already killed 860,892 Europeans, and is putting incredible strain on healthcare workers and systems worldwide. Yet pharmaceutical company Pfizer can make a 25-30% profit this year on the $15 billion it earns from selling the corona vaccine. The logic of profit should never take precedence over the lives and livelihoods of the world’s population," says Yves Hellendorff, national secretary CNE non-profit, member of the European Network against Commercialisation of Health.

The European Commission is blocking a proposal within the World Trade Organisation to temporarily remove patents on vaccines, treatments and technologies against COVID-19. This proposal could, however, greatly increase global production capacity by allowing pharmaceutical companies to produce the approved vaccines. According to UNICEF, only 43% of the world’s vaccine production capacity is currently used to produce corona vaccines. In an open letter sent on April 2 to European leaders, 80 European organisations denounced this position.

"It is incomprehensible that the European Commission restricts access to the vaccine in order to protect the profits of Big Pharma. In this way, it allows Covid-19 to make even more victims. But thanks to public pressure, we can change this," said Anne Delespaul, initiator of the European Citizens’ Initiative No Profit on Pandemic.

The European Citizens’ Initiative has already collected more than 130,000 signatures thanks to the efforts of more than 300 organisations in Europe. In Belgium, the initiative is supported by various trade unions, mutual health organisations, NGOs and health organisations. When a European Citizens’ Initiative collects 1 million signatures, the European Commission is obliged to consider it.

Press contacts:
Julie Steendam - 0497 79 35 27 -
European Citizens’ Initiative Coordinator ’Right to Cure - No Profit on Pandemic’,

Yves Hellendorff - 0476 50 20 43 -National Secretary CNE- nonprofit, member European Network against Commercialisation of Health Care

Sarah Derdelinckx - +32499 35 26 36 -
European Network against the Privatisation and Commercialisation of Health Care and Social Protection,


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