LAHORE: The Progressive International has called for Covid vaccination to be accelerated by removing patents and transferring free technology to make vaccines around the world.
The call came at an online summit of the forum, which is working to unite progressive forces around the world. The summit brought together the governments of the Global South, political leaders, health workers and vaccine manufacturers from over 20 countries.
Among them were former leader of the British Labor party Jeremy Corbyn, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and Colombian opposition leader Gustavo Petro as well as representatives of health unions from the USA, Brazil and India. MNA Mohsin Dawar and Haqooq-i-Khalq movement leader Farooq Tariq attended from Pakistan.
The summit believed that with only 6.2 percent of the world’s population currently fully vaccinated against Covid-19, it would take 57 years for low-income countries to fully vaccinate their populations at the current pace.
Mr Corbyn said the cheaper, faster, and fairer way to vaccinate the world would be to ditch the vaccine patents, share the technology, and allow governments everywhere to manufacture it to feed their citizens.
Varoufakis regretted that rich countries’ central banks had printed over $ 9 trillion, much of which had just propped up the wealth of billionaires, while failing to fund global vaccinations, which the IMF estimated would cost $ 50 billion.
The Prime Minister of the Indian state of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, said at the summit that Kerala would be ready to manufacture vaccines if it received the necessary technology.
The Bolivian Foreign Minister Rogelio Mayta Mayta called for an ideological change in the global health system from competition to cooperation.
Mr Dawar said the West is talking about a post-Covid world while poor countries have not even been able to vaccinate 5 percent of their population.
He stressed the importance of debt relief for Pakistan while calling for global efforts to address the rise in militarism, which could divert attention and resources from fighting the pandemic.
Farooq Tariq said governments must immediately allocate sufficient funds to provide free vaccines to all citizens and warned of the dangers of “vaccine nationalism” as Covid-19 cannot be defeated in a given country and global efforts are required be.
He called for Pakistan’s debt obligations to be suspended for at least four years in order to divert the funds to public health.
Posted in Dawn, June 21, 2021