From The Canadian Press: South Africa’s envoy in Canada, Sibongiseni Dlamini-Mntambo, is calling on the federal government to support a waiver on patents for COVID-19 vaccines in order to end “vaccine apartheid,” as parts of southern Africa grapple with the spread of the new Omicron variant.

  • South Africa and India have drafted a waiver at the World Trade Organization calling on patents held by big pharmaceutical corporations to be suspended, a move which would speed up vaccine production in poorer countries.

Dlamnini-Mntambo told CP: “Unfortunately, Canada is one of those countries that have not supported us.”

  • As noted by CP, experts have long predicted that new COVID variants will emerge if poorer countries’ populations are not vaccinated at the same pace as wealthier countries. Less than one-quarter of South Africa’s population is vaccinated, while some adults in Western countries are already receiving their third doses.

Dlamnini-Mntambo said: “If you look at the countries in the West, I mean, they are beginning to talk booster vaccines, they are looking into rolling out vaccines for children while in Africa, we are struggling.”

Read CP’s full story here.

From The Maple, Sept. 29, 2021: As reported by Jeremy Appel for The Maple back in September, pharmaceutical industry forces "are pressuring the governments of wealthy countries, including Canada, to block efforts by poorer countries — led by India and South Africa — to waive patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, which would give researchers in these countries the ability to operate independently from big pharma.”

  • Appel continued: “The fear is that making it easier for developing nations to produce vaccines would rock the boat too much with the multinationals, jeopardizing wealthy countries’ bilateral deals with those companies. This dynamic underpins Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unwillingness to endorse India and South Africa’s proposal at the World Trade Organization.”

Writer Linda McQuaig told Appel: “The Trudeau government is so into promoting business interests … Whenever it wants to project itself as a progressive government, it is so close to business interests that it always sees market solutions to things, even when much better public solutions are available. I think it’s clear the Trudeau government is completely intimidated by big pharma.”

Read Appel’s full story from September here.

What Happened To Canada’s Domestic Vaccine Manufacturing Capacity?
“What the pandemic has done has just driven home how vulnerable we are to the pharmaceutical industry. It was clear that it was a problem for Canada that we didn’t have domestic vaccine production capacity.”

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