• 15 Jul, 2021

While the 7 June COVID-19 policy announcement is a step in the right direction, much more needs to be done to ensure access to a People’s Vaccine. The new policy maintains the risk of pandemic profiteering by pharmaceutical companies at the cost of people’s lives and continues to reserve a quarter of India’s vaccine supply for the rich. At the same time, vaccine scarcity in India is exacerbated by rich country governments at the global level continuing to block proposals by India, South Africa and 100 other developing countries to temporarily lift the intellectual property (IP) barriers standing in the way of a large scale up in COVID-19 vaccine production.

The Government of India needs to announce a detailed and transparent COVID-19 Vaccine policy arrived upon in consultation with state governments and the people of India. It must drastically increase the pace of vaccination with vaccines purchased at true cost prices, and distributed equitably prioritising those most at risk first. The central government must do whatever it takes to upscale manufacturing including exploring compulsory licensing and leveraging India’s large scale vaccine manufacturing capacity to address shortages.

Other countries need to support India’s proposal for temporary relaxations to certain intellectual property provisions under the TRIPS Agreement of the World Trade Organisation for all COVID-19 technologies; ensure the vaccine science and know-how is shared with the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) and lift bans on exports of essential ingredients for vaccine manufacturing.

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