An open letter signed by numerous Belgian companies and civil organisations calls for a temporary suspension of the intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines in order to aid vaccine distribution worldwide.
The letter criticises the monopoly that a few major companies have been able to gain which not only puts them at an unfair business advantage by stifling competition, but also reduces access to the vaccines. The signatories argue that both the global vaccine rollout and the distribution of tests have been driven by financial decisions, Belga News Agency reports.
A temporary suspension of property rights would, they argue, allow lower-income countries to produce vaccines and tests themselves rather than being dependent on the goodwill of wealthier nations. This request has been consistently opposed by the EU, the UK, and Switzerland as well as, unsurprisingly, the vaccine-producing companies themselves.
The letter was signed by organisations including health insurance syndicates, Belgian bishops, Médecins sans frontières Belgium, and company CEOs including those of the Studio 100 production company, Wouter Torfs of Torfs Shoes, and Herman Van de Velde of the luxury lingerie company.
The letter calls on Belgium and the EU to lift their veto on the temporary patent suspension within the World Trade Organisation.