Seattle City Council Supports TRIPS Waiver

By a 7-to-1 margin, the Seattle City Council passed a resolution calling on President Biden to end U.S. opposition to the international campaign for an Intellectual Property Rights waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

“Washington Fair Trade Coalition commends Seattle City Council for supporting the TRIPS Waiver,” said Hillary Haden, Executive Director of the Coalition. “Despite this being an international issue, it’s so important for cities to weigh in because the longer the pandemic lasts, the more we are all impacted. Supporting the TRIPS waiver is the just thing to do in order to save millions of lives, to secure our own economic recovery, to improve international relations and to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Councilmember Kshama Sawant, the resolution’s sponsor, said, “I congratulate our movement on winning today’s City Council resolution, urging the Biden administration to put human lives before billionaire profit, and remove the WTO patent restrictions to allow all billions of people to have access to the life-saving vaccine. This resolution demonstrates our movement’s rejection of the status quo of profit-driven vaccine apartheid and vaccine nationalism, and our fight for vaccine internationalism.”

Sawant noted that as World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has pointed out regarding vaccine doses, “over 87% have gone to high-income or upper- and middle-income countries, while low-income countries have received just 0.2%.” 

More than 100 countries have appealed to the WTO, which enforces Intellectual Property (IP) so-called rights internationally, to issue a waiver to allow COVID-19 vaccines to be produced around the world, but WTO representatives from richer countries including the U.S., U.K., and E.U. have opposed issuing the waiver. That was initially a policy of the Trump Administration, which steadfastly defended the profits of Big Pharma over the lives of millions of people in the Global South.

Shamefully, the Biden administration has continued that policy.

UPDATE: Following the Seattle resolution, Cambridge, Massachusetts — the home of Moderna — also passed a resolution calling on President Biden to support the TRIPS waiver.

Tags: ,