As Coronavirus Ravages India, Senate Dems Urge US Pharma Firms to Share Vaccine Tech
As Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to soar in India, a group of Democratic U.S. senators on Wednesday sent letters to three Big Pharma CEOs urging them to expand global vaccine access by sharing technology and by lifting intellectual property barriers to allow countries to locally produce vaccines.
“Increasing Covid-19 vaccinations in India is urgently needed to reduce human suffering and prevent unnecessary deaths. It could also help halt the spread of coronavirus variants that could prolong the pandemic across the globe.”
“Covid-19 has infected over 148 million people and killed over three million globally, with hundreds of thousands of new cases and thousands of deaths being reported daily,” write Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), and Chris Murphy (Conn.) to the CEOs of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
The senators warn that although these “and other companies have developed safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines, the uncontrolled spread of coronavirus poses significant risks to global vaccination efforts. As the virus proliferates, it evolves, increasing the risk of a variant developing that renders vaccinations ineffective.”
“Though wealthier countries, including the United States, have successfully secured vaccines and have made significant strides in vaccinating their populations, many middle- and lower-income nations have less access to vaccine doses,” the letter continues. “A recent study estimates that unequal global vaccine distribution could result in a gross domestic product loss of $1.2 trillion annually for the global economy.”
The senators highlight the acute crisis in India, where over 360,000 new coronavirus cases—the most ever recorded in a country in a single day during the pandemic—and 3,293 deaths were reported Wednesday as the nation passed the grim milestone of 200,000 Covid-19 fatalities.
Although noting that India is a “major producer” of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, and that it has exported over 66 million doses this year, the senators write that “it is still struggling to vaccinate people quickly enough to quell the outbreak.”
“Addressing the spread of Covid-19 in India is critical,” they assert, adding that there are steps the pharma giants can take “to increase global vaccine access.”
“Increasing Covid-19 vaccinations in India is urgently needed to reduce human suffering and prevent unnecessary deaths,” the letter states. “It could also help halt the spread of coronavirus variants that could prolong the pandemic across the globe.”
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