Get the prime minister to advocate for a COVID patent waiver: letter

LETTERS

Thousands of residents of Campbell River and area have now received their first COVID vaccination. While this past year has been a long haul and we still have a way to go, there is some relief and anticipation in the air.

Every province and territory in Canada has had its COVID-related gains and setbacks. But the international picture looks particularly grim, whether it be either the daily TV images of hospitals and burning funeral pyres in India, or the dozens of other countries in pandemic crisis but receiving less media attention.

This past year has clearly shown how easily COVID-19 transmits across borders. Here is the harsh reality: As long as COVID-19 exists anywhere in the world, it poses a threat everywhere. Yet, despite this risk being truly global, wealthy countries have bought up over half of the global vaccine supply for themselves. Canada has purchased enough vaccine to immunize Canadians several times over, while poorer nations are going without. Projections are that, if this inequity continues, some countries won’t be getting vaccines until 2024. This situation would prolong the pandemic and provide time for other COVID variants to appear, continuing the risk everywhere.

The quickest way to increase vaccine supply is for the big, thriving pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna to share their research and technical know-how with generic drug manufacturers. Right now, there is an international push to make this happen, with Oxfam and other groups pressuring the Canadian and other governments to waive patent protection for COVID-related products. Please add your voice for Canada to support this initiative. You can sign and send an e-letter to the Prime Minister at www.oxfam.ca/campaign/a-peoples-vaccine-now.

And, to lend an immediate financial hand to India in particular, you can donate to the Humanitarian Coalition at www.humanitariancoalition.ca. The Coalition brings together most of the leading aid organizations in Canada to fundraise for situations of crisis and disaster.

Thanks very much for taking these caring steps.

Kent Macaulay

Quadra Island

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