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Governments should maximize Covid-19 vaccine access and affordability for people worldwide, and those funding vaccines with public money should be transparent about the terms and conditions attached, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Thursday. The rights group said governments should support India and South Africa’s proposal to waive some aspects of global intellectual property (IP) rules to enable large-scale manufacturing and make vaccines affordable for all.
The 77-page report, “‘Whoever Finds the Vaccine Must Share It’: Strengthening Human Rights and Transparency around Covid-19 Vaccines,” examines three significant barriers to universal and equitable access to any vaccine that is found to be safe and effective – transparency, supply, and pricing. Human Rights Watch spells out governments’ human rights obligation to ensure that the scientific benefits of the research they fund with public money are shared as widely as possible to protect people’s lives, health, and livelihoods. Human Rights Watch also argues that using public money without reporting its terms and conditions undermines the human rights principles of transparency and accountability. Governments should take steps to maximize the availability and affordability of safe and effective vaccines and minimize debt for low- and middle-income countries.
“Governments should urgently band together, be transparent, and cooperate to share the benefits of the scientific research they fund to help humanity,” said Aruna Kashyap, senior business and human rights counsel at Human Rights Watch and a co-author of the report. “More than a million people have died and another million are projected to die by the end of the year. Governments should use their funding and regulatory powers to ensure that corporate profit doesn’t determine who can get vaccines.”
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