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Press Release: Denial of democracy on the issue of removing patents on Covid-19 vaccines.

D 9 May 2021    


The decision whether to lift patents cannot be excluded from a democratic decision process: we call on parliaments across Europe to ensure this utterly important issue is urgently taken up at their level.

For several months, more than 100 countries have been asking the World Trade Organization organisation (WTO) to make vaccines and other medical products fighting the SARS COV2 epidemic a common good or in other words to temporarily lift licenses for these goods*. The demand is supported by scientists and intellectuals across the world, more than 500 members of parliaments across Europe, 175 former world leaders and Nobel laureates, more than 100 civil society organizations, over 190,000 European citizens through the European Citizens’ Initiative "Right to Cure", the African Union and the World Health Organization. In addition to this, recent surveys** have shown that on average 69% of the population of western countries believe that governments should ensure vaccine science and know-how is shared with qualified manufacturers around the world. Billions of public money has been invested in vaccine research by the United States and Europe, not even including the tax breaks given to pharmaceutical companies.

The images of India show us very violently the urgency of the implementation of these measures: it is a question of life or death! For the European network it is a moral obligation and a necessary action to remove medical goods, drugs and health systems from any form of commercialization or profit. However we also question the mode of decision making of the states that are opposed today to the lifting of patents at WTO. The European representatives, or the member states of the EU, have been opposed since the beginning to these obvious public health measures, preferring to privilege the profits of pharmaceutical companies to the health of the people. The question is: who decides? To our knowledge, very little national or European parliamentary debate has resulted in a vote on this issue. To our knowledge, democracy is a constitutive principle of the European Union. This is why the European network and its member organizations:
• alert on this denial of democracy;
• call on the European parliamentarians on this question;
• call on national parliamentarians to demand a democratic debate in their respective countries so that responsibilities are clearly engaged.

Beyond this democratic question, it is necessary that citizens know who, in their name, is making them bear the responsibility of abandoning entire populations to the sole economic interests of pharmaceutical companies.

The signatories join the appeal launched by the European citizens’ initiative "No Profit on Pandemic", which aims to collect one million signatures to ask the European Commission to make vaccines and anti-Covid-19 treatments accessible worldwide, and to make all the transparency on the negotiations in progress with pharmaceutical companies. Today, the European Citizens’ Initiative has already collected more than 190,000 signatures through the efforts of more than 300 organizations in Europe.

* Technology transfer and know-how and financial assistance to facilitate production in the most financially challenged countries are often part of this demand as lifting of patents alone will not be sufficient. The lifting of patents should not only apply to vaccines (contrary to what the US is proposing) but to all treatments and diagnostics against Covid-19.

**The YouGov poll results for the individual countries were: US – 69 per cent, France - 63 per cent, Germany 70 per cent and the UK 74 per cent, which gives a combined average across the countries of 69 per cent. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,351 adults in the US, 1788 adults in the UK, 1010 adults in France and 2039 adults in Germany. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23 – 26 February 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults (aged 18+) in each individual country of the US, UK, France and Germany.

Press Inquiries

For more information on the European Citizens’ Initiative Right to Cure, please contact Julie Steendam, European Coordinator,, +32497793527

Twitter: @Right2Cure

For more information on the European Network against commercialisation of Health and social protection please contact Sarah Derdelinckx, on + 32499352636/ email


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