Dear Chris Skidmore MP,
I am deeply saddened by the news coming out of India about the latest wave of the COVID-19 crisis. One thing that could have prevented or reduced the damage caused by this current wave of the disease is access to the vaccine.
Access to life-saving vaccines should not be blocked by wealthier countries and big pharma companies hiding behind intellectual property law. Not only is it morally wrong that the UK has been blocking access to vaccines in this way - leading to thousands of excess deaths - but we're also shooting ourselves in the foot. The more wildly out of control the disease gets in other countries, the more likely it is that a new strain will arise which is resistant to our current vaccine.
Please can you work with your colleagues in government to change the UK's position on IP rights for vaccines and waive them so that other countries can produce the doses they need to save lives.
Thank you for your email. I appreciate you contacting me about the proposal to suspend intellectual property rights and patents for the Covid-19 vaccine.
The vaccines that have been produced this year for inoculation against Covid-19 have been developed at record speed. This is testament to the dedication, hard work and ingenuity of researchers, scientists and medical professionals around the world.
It is clear to me that cooperation with other countries will be an important part of reducing the spread of the virus and I fully understand your support for the proposal to suspend intellectual property rights relating to Covid-19.
The UK continues to engage on the proposal at the WTO but I do not believe that waiving intellectual property rights to be an appropriate way of safely and effectively boosting the production of vaccines.
My ministerial colleagues have explained that there are existing flexibilities within the Agreement for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights that allow WTO members to access medicines. The UK is one of the world's largest aid donors in response to Covid-19 and is committed to supporting equitable access to vaccines. Over £1 billion has been pledged to counter health, economic and humanitarian risks.
I do hope this can be of some use and reassurance to you. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me, and if there is ever anything else I can do for you as your local MP, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
With very best wishes,
Chris does not support waiving IP rights for vaccines, and there's really no defence for it given here. What's interesting is that he went on record with this just prior to the USA changing its approach to support a waiver. Will Chris flip-flop if the UK government also changes its mind?
Game Maker & Green Activist
Game Maker & Green Activist