September 21, 2021
His Excellency Mr. Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia
His Excellency Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India
His Excellency Mr. Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan
His Excellency Mr. Joe Biden, the President of the United States of America
The Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has infected more than 226 million people since 2020, killing more than 4.6 million people as of mid-September 2021, and continues to grow. Despite progress in the development and dissemination of effective vaccines, the vaccine gap between rich and poor countries has widened dramatically, and as of September 15, high income countries have 20 times more access to vaccines than low-income countries. The gap is not only in vaccines, but also in access to testing (92 times more access), oxygen and other treatments. At this rate, Covid-19 is unlikely to come to an end.
To overcome the vaccine, testing and treatment disparities, it is necessary to promote technology transfer of effective and safe vaccines, diagnosis and therapeutics, including mRNA vaccines, and to strengthen manufacturing capacity globally to meet global public health needs and to supply these in a fair manner that is accessible to all. In order to achieve this, it is essential that the agreement on “Partial and Temporary Waiver of Intellectual Property Rights for Products for the Prevention, Treatment and Containment of COVID-19,” which has been jointly proposed to the WTO by 62 countries around the world, including India and South Africa, be realized as soon as possible; and that comprehensive technology transfer of vaccine and drug manufacturing and regional manufacturing and supply be realized. It is also essential to achieve comprehensive technology transfer and regional manufacturing and supply of vaccines and medicines.
At the March 12 summit meeting, the “Quad” (Quad) Initiative, made up of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, established the “Quad Vaccine Partnership” with a focus on increasing the manufacturing capacity of Covid-19 vaccines and expanding manufacturing, procurement, and delivery. This partnership aims to achieve the convergence of Covid-19 in the Indo-Pacific region, which has a huge population. In order to achieve this goal, it is essential to facilitate technology transfer of vaccines and medicines, including mRNA vaccines, through the temporary or partial waiver of intellectual property rights, and to expand manufacturing and supply capacity. Further, the Quad countries need to make the best use of their capabilities and fulfill its responsibility for development, technology transfer, manufacturing and supply to achieve equitable access to vaccines and medicines against Covid-19 globally, not only in the Indo-Pacific region.
India, a member of the Quad, along with the Republic of South Africa, is the original proposer of the proposal for temporary or partial exemption of intellectual property rights to the WTO. The United States and Australia expressed their support for the proposal on May 5 and September 13, respectively. Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mogi, has also announced that Japan will not oppose the proposal and will promote discussions on it. In light of this, we would like to make the following requests for the Quad summit on September 24.
The leaders of the Quad countries should:
- Issue a joint statement at the Quad Leaders Summit expressing clear support for the proposal to waiver TRIPs from the WTO, including the Japanese government.
- Expand the development, technology transfer, manufacturing and supply to vaccines and medicines against Covid-19, including mRNA vaccines, globally, not only in the Indo-Pacific region, in order to achieve equitable access to vaccines and medicines around the world.
Coordinator, Equal Access to Health and Medical Services for All! Japan Network
Japan Director, Human Rights Watch