The study group “German Foreign Policy” – an important source of information for those interested in politics – draws attention to the fact that Western states are opposed to the release of “patent rights” to pandemic vaccines, which would ease the Covid 19 crisis in developing countries:
“Germany and the EU should no longer prevent measures to supply poorer countries with Covid-19 drugs and vaccines. This is what human rights organisations are calling for before the meeting of the General Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which begins today. The reason for the demand is that the rich Western countries block the proposal by India and South Africa to suspend patent rights on Covid-19 vaccines during the duration of the pandemic. If the WTO were to decide, poorer countries would be able to produce the vaccines that they desperately need, but which are scarce: the transatlantic West, including the Federal Republic, has already reserved 85 percent of production in – much more than it needs for its own population. The developing countries, on the other hand, have so far been running out of steam. Of course, unlike in the past, this time they are receiving vaccines from Russia and China. In Berlin, in view of the political consequences, it is said that one should at least give away some of one’s own surplus vaccination doses and then communicate this well.”
It is the pure selfishness of rich countries to have already reserved or bought almost all the production of vaccines – produced in the West – even before the legal release of the vaccines. “We Rich First”: What do the others care about? However, the fact that Russia and China, which are prepared to pass on their vaccines to poorer countries on favourable terms, could, of course, benefit from image or even political benefits is again undesirable. Hence the reference to ‘communication’.
Not mentioned: Switzerland
The report of the working group “German Foreign Policy” does not specifically mention Switzerland. The reality is that Switzerland, too, has already approved 400 million Swiss francs, thus reserving vaccines for 9.8 million vaccinations, just from two different providers for safety reasons. It is currently in negotiations with a third party to reservation another 1.5 million doses of vaccination. Switzerland, one of the richest countries in the world, can easily afford this luxury.
“Rhetoric and Practice”
“German Foreign Policy” allows itself to shed more light on Germany’s behaviour in this matter and to criticize the double standards behind it under the title “Rhetoric and Practice”.
“While Berlin is looking for options to stop the looming shift of political loyalties away from the West to Russia and China, human rights organizations are sharply critical – because of the WTO’s blockade of the suspension of intellectual property rights in Covid-19 vaccines. The pandemic is a global emergency, according to a statement published yesterday by Amnesty International: Germany and the EU must make a strong case at the WTO General Council meeting, which begins today, to ensure that, as India and South Africa called for, patent protection for Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments … until the pandemic emergency is over and all are protected. It is true that there is always public talk of international solidarity; in practice, however, too little is being done for the poorer countries. Amnesty International is one of the organizations whose reports and judgments the Western powers like to cite when it helps them legitimize political aggression against opposing states. If, on the other hand, Amnesty or other human rights organizations criticize Western practices, reactions are usually absent – including in the conflict over preventing the necessary vaccine supply from the poorer, non-Western part of the world.”
For Switzerland, this is only something to be added to: as a very rich and so-called neutral country, Switzerland should and could even more stand up for the interests of the poorer countries. The Federal Council is called upon to do so, with a commitment in the WTO to repeal patent protection and not just with 20 million Swiss francs, which it has so far spoken for the international vaccination programme Covax.