A group of over 400 experts have called the UK to back a proposal first put forward by India and South Africa for a temporary waiver on COVID-19 vaccine patents.
Intellectual property protections ensure that the developers of vaccines are financially rewarded; removing them would help with boosting supply to poorer countries.
READ: Moderna, Pfizer drop after US backs proposal to lift patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines to boost supply
The open letter to Boris Johnson was organised by Global Justice Now, StopAIDS, and Just Treatment, Sky News reported.
“Action is profoundly urgent. New waves of COVID-19 are rising across the globe while epidemiologists warn that new mutations risk leaving current vaccines ineffective,” it read.
“Together with sharing vaccine technologies and know-how through the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), this waiver would allow more producers to get more vaccines made, and help save countless lives and livelihoods. We must learn the painful lessons from a history of unequal access in dealing with diseases such as HIV/AIDS.”
“We urge you to now provide the leadership to ensure an end to this global crisis. Defending intellectual property at all costs will not only lead to even more unnecessary loss of lives but is an unprecedented act of collective self-harm.”
Last week, the US and World Trade Organization (WTO) expressed support for the initiative.