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South Africa, Oxfam Call For Fairer Trade Rules In Response To Pandemic

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South Africa’s president and head of Oxfam has put pressure on World Trade Organisation members and manufacturers to allow fairer access to COVID-19 vaccines including a waiver on intellectual property rights.

On Tuesday, as a WTO public event on trade and COVID-19 also attended by German vaccine maker BioNTech, Cyril Ramaphosa stated that a waiver on patents was needed to save millions of lives during the pandemic. He added, “This is not the time just to be uni-dimensionally focused on profit. This is the time to save lives.”

Without mentioning the waiver specifically, Oxfam’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher stated that monopolies, not science were the biggest challenge to defeating the virus. She added, “The reality is the current trade rules enable rich country governments and pharmaceutical corporations to work hand in hand to artificially limit vaccine supplies to developing countries. I must appeal to BioNTech – the vaccine has turned your CEO into a double-digit billionaire.”

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