Vaccine row: Expert hits out at 'ineffective' distribution
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Julie Steendam from the European Citizens’ Initiative “Right to Cure” warned vaccine nationalism would give COVID-19 enough time to mutate and turn into a variant that can not be cured by current medicines. She believes the only solution is to waive intellectual property rights to allow all nations to create the vaccine domestically to speed up the rollout internationally. But the campaigner faced tough questioning on her assumption that countries would be selfless as she urged nations to learn from past health crises.
Speaking on Russia Today, Ms Steendam argued that countries and companies should waive intellectual property rights so all nations could produce vaccines domestically.
She was then probed on countries being reluctant to share vaccines when citizens are desperate to receive them since governments are elected to represent national interests.
Ms Steendam replied: “I think what the survey of the People’s Vaccine Alliance has shown us today is that this is a false idea.
“The national interest and especially during a pandemic is a collective global interest and this is what we have been saying for months, for years.
“If we want to end a pandemic and, especially with this one, the way of handling it in a nationalistic way and making sure that your whole population gets vaccinated as fast as possible is not only highly unethical but highly ineffective.
“Because it will basically mean we leave larger parts of the world unprotected.
“With the current rate of vaccination, only 10 percent of the global population will be vaccinated by the end of the year.
“This means that the virus will have any opportunity to adapt and to make more variations to mutate and be new threats to European and UK citizens as well.
“So all the public funding put in the development of the vaccine and the campaign of getting it all over the country will be lost.”
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Discussing plans for a global treaty on pandemics earlier in her interview, Ms Steendam said: “I think it’s quite positive to read the statement by world leaders.
“But if you’re following the subject over the last few months it’s actually quite concerning and a bit contradictory to hear what they are saying.
“Definitely the current pandemic is a wake-up call and that we should be better prepared for more health crises to come.
“But it’s not like this is the first time that we are struggling with a big health crisis and I think it’s a bit of a false idea to say that we are now [managing] the pandemic.
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“But it’s not over yet and it’s still time to accelerate and there is still time to change the way that we are handling the situation.
“I mean we already had the experience before with the HIV crisis where we also saw that having access to treatments and vaccines was one of the biggest issues to make sure people were protected.
“And here, we had to lift intellectual property rights to make sure that treatments were available and cheap as one of the ways to end it.
“So I think it’s a bit false and too early to say that we are [near the end], but we should learn lessons from this pandemic because we already have those lessons learned from past health crises.”
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