San Diego Protesters Call On Rep. Peters To Support COVID-19 Vaccine Trade Waiver
Friday, April 23, 2021
Photo by Matthew Bowler
San Diego congressman Scott Peters opposes a push to waive the intellectual property rights for vaccines made by companies like Moderna and Pfizer.
That opposition lead protesters to gather outside his La Jolla office on Friday. They say the waiver could save millions of lives around the world by allowing poorer countries to manufacture generic versions of the vaccine.
Will Jamil Wiltschko with the California Trade Justice Coalition says that President Joe Biden should issue what’s known as a TRIPS waiver.
“If we do not support this TRIPS waiver, if countries can’t produce the vaccine, we’re going to continue to have more and more deaths and more and more Zoom funerals,” Wiltschko said.
Over 400 organizations, including Doctors Without Borders and Human Rights Watch, have called on the U.S. to issue the waiver.
But Peters, whose district is home to many biotech companies, said the issue isn’t trade secrets — it’s production capacity.
“It’s a matter of producing and distributing," Peters said. You’ve got to construct facilities, establish supply chains — that’s what takes time.”
Peters said by lifting intellectual property protections, the U.S. would be giving out secrets behind mRNA technology.
“That technology could be the basis for cancer cures and other innovations that we want to be American. This is not an impediment to getting vaccines out. This is an attempt by the (World Trade Organization) to get a hold of this technology, including Russia and China. We want America to be in the lead. There’s no reason to sacrifice that in the name of getting the vaccine out because it’s not an obstacle,” he said.
The request for the waiver originally came from India, which has seen a deadly explosion of cases in recent weeks. Yesterday, it recorded over 300,000 new cases — a single day record.
“In this day and time, nobody is no more than 20 hours away by plane. Anywhere in the world. We’re all neighbors whether we want to be or not,” said David Simmons, one of the protesters on Friday.
The Biden Administration has so far resisted the request to issue the TRIPS waiver.
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