Overwhelming number of Americans want pharmaceutical companies to share COVID-19 vaccine science and forgo their patents to hasten development of vaccines around the world and save the thousands of people dying from the disease daily.
Almost seven in ten U.S. adults (69%) think governments should ensure vaccine science and know-how is shared with qualified manufacturers, alongside adequately compensating the vaccine developers, rather than remaining the exclusive property of a handful of pharmaceutical giants.
The YouGov poll for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a global coalition of organizations including Amnesty International, Free the Vaccine, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now, Oxfam, Public Citizen, SumOfUs, Tearfund, UNAIDS and the Yunus Centre, shows that a majority of respondents support the removal of patents for COVID-19 vaccines and other intellectual property barriers, which would allow for mass production of treatments against the disease.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance has previously warned that many poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in ten people against COVID-19 this year unless urgent action is taken by governments and the pharmaceutical industry to make sure enough doses are produced.
The online survey involved a total sample size was 1,351 adults with fieldwork undertaken between February 23rd – 24th, 2021.
At least 70% of U.S. adults also feel that the continued spread of COVID-19 elsewhere in the world poses a substantial risk to the national economy, while nearly half (47%) felt it was a large or significant threat to them personally.
These poll numbers come as the World Trade Organization (WTO) prepares this week to discuss a proposal which would override the monopolies held by pharmaceutical companies and allow an urgently needed scale up in the production of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to ensure everyone in the world who needs a vaccine, regardless of how much money they have, can get one.
The vast majority of low and middle income countries are supporting this proposal, but the U.S. is amongst richer countries opposing it.
What they are saying:
“We cannot bring this pandemic to an end unless pharmaceutical companies share the knowledge, technology and intellectual property to do so. This survey shows that the American public recognizes that COVID-19 will continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of billions of people across the world, including in the U.S., until action is taken to drastically scale up global vaccine supply,” said Joanne Lin, National Director for Advocacy and Government Affairs at Amnesty International USA. “No one should be blocked from getting life-saving vaccines because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket. Only by working with others to share resources and technology to scale up supply can we bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“In the battle against COVID-19, we must always remember that COVID anywhere is COVID everywhere. We can’t end the pandemic or rebuild the economy without a vaccine that is free, fair, and available to all. Americans recognize this. In order to win against COVID, companies must share vaccine knowledge, technology, intellectual property, data and know-how to boost supply, reduce price and enhance equity,” said Niko Lusiani, Senior Advisor with Oxfam America.
“The sharing of information and knowledge is what allowed the U.S. government and vaccine manufacturers to develop COVID-19 vaccines in record time. The legal barriers to sharing medical technology so more manufacturers can help ramp up vaccine production can easily be overcome. All that is needed is political will and cooperation,” said Peter Maybarduk, Director of Access to Medicines with Public Citizen.