Polling by the People’s Vaccine Alliance has revealed that a supermajority of people in G7 countries believe governments should force pharmaceutical companies to share the formula and technology of their vaccines.

The findings come as G7 foreign and development ministers meet in London for the first in-person meeting in two years. The general council of the World Trade Organisation is also due to virtually meet today, while India’s death toll grows rapidly.

While the public believes that pharmaceutical companies should be fairly compensated for developing the vaccines, they also believe ‘big pharma’ should be prevented from holding a monopoly on them.

70% of respondents showed their support for government intervention

An average of 70% of respondents across the seven nations shared this view. Support for government intervention was slightly above average in the UK, where 74% of respondents were in favour. However, backing was highest in Italy at 82%, followed by Canada at 76%.

When analysing the political background of respondents, the researchers found that support for intervention cuts across political boundaries in the UK. In total, 73% of Conservative voters, 83% of Labour and 79% of Liberal Democrats, as well as 83% of Remain and 72% of Leave voters in the EU referendum, agreed that the government should prevent big pharma from keeping vaccine know-how from the public.

In the United States, views were less unified across the political parties. An average of 69% of the public supported the measure, including 89% of Biden supporters and 65% of Trump supporters.

In Japan, 68% of the public would like to see the government intervene. EU member-nations were also strongly in favour, with support from 70% in Germany and 63% in France.

G7 governments have continued to support pharmaceutical monopolies on vaccinations

Despite this widespread support, G7 governments have continued to support pharmaceutical monopolies on Covid-19 vaccinations. Just recently at the WTO, the US, UK, Japan, Canada and the EU all blocked the proposal of a temporary waiver of Intellectual Property rights on Covid-19 vaccines. The proposal was supported by more than 100 countries, led by India and South Africa.

So far, all pharmaceutical companies that have successfully manufactured a vaccine have refused to share the technology and formula with the rest of the world. Furthermore, none of the companies have joined the World Health Organisation’s ‘Covid-19 Technology Access Pool’ (C-TAP), which was established to facilitate sharing blueprints for vaccines and treatments.

Saoirse Fitzpatrick, STOPAIDS Advocacy Manager said: “The horrific situation in India should shake G7 leaders to their core. Now is not the time for an ideological defence of intellectual property rules. Bilateral deals with pharmaceutical companies have not worked. Governments need to step in and force pharmaceutical companies to share their intellectual property and vaccine know-how with the world.”

Faith leaders call for G7 governments to treat Covid-19 as “global common good”

The UK, which is chair of the G7, has proposed a Pandemic Preparedness Plan (which ignores the issue of monopolies and intellectual property) and will be discussed by ministers this week. However, while pharmaceutical corporations such as Pfizer are on the team preparing the proposal, developing country governments and vaccine producers have not been asked to join.

The decision to allow big pharma to withhold this information has shocked world leaders around the globe. Last month, 175 of these leaders and Nobel laureates wrote to President Biden in support of the temporary waiving of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines. A further 150 faith leaders have also voiced their disapproval, calling for G7 leaders to treat Covid-19 as a “global common good.”

Anna Marriott, Health Policy Manager at Oxfam, said: “People are dying by the thousands in low- and middle-income countries while rich nations have jumped the vaccine queue. G7 leaders need to face up to reality. We don’t have enough vaccines for everyone and the biggest barrier to increasing supply is that a few profit hungry pharmaceutical corporations keep the rights to produce them under the lock and key. It’s time to waive the intellectual property rules, ramp up production and put people’s lives before profits. It’s time for a People’s Vaccine.”

Epidemiologists warn that vaccine-resistant strains of Covid-19 could soon render our current vaccines ineffective

World-leading epidemiologists have further warned that this hoarding of vaccine knowledge could be futile, as the spread of the virus could allow vaccine-resistant strains of Covid-19 to render our current vaccines ineffective within a year.

Moderna, Pfizer/BioNtech, Johnson & Johnson, Novovax and Oxford/AstraZeneca received billions in public funding and guaranteed pre-orders, including $12 billion from the US government alone. An estimated 97% of funding for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine came from public sources.

The companies have paid out a combined $26 billion in dividends and stock buybacks to their shareholders this year, enough to vaccinate at least 1.3 billion people, equivalent to the population of Africa.

Heidi Chow, Senior Campaigns and Policy Manager at Global Justice Now, said: “The public doesn’t want big pharma to hold monopolies on vaccines that were developed largely with public money. These vaccines are a global public good that should be available to everyone, everywhere. That much is obvious to the public across G7 nations, but political leaders are burying their heads in the sand while people die around them.”