RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) organised online and offline protests against Bill Gates and Bill Melinda Gates Foundation against the Microsoft co-founder's reported statement that he is not in favour of sharing vaccine formula with India and other developing countries. The Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman, in a statement issued in the US, said the Foundation wants no barriers to stand in the way of equitable access to vaccines, including intellectual property, which is why it supports a narrow IP waiver during the pandemic.
The SJM wanted the government to permit to use licence under Section 100 or compulsory licence under Section 92 of Patents Act to scale up production of medicines like Remdesivir, Faviracire, Tociluzumab and new medicines like Molnupiravir. They called for facilitation of technology transfer of vaccines including the trade secrets to all potential manufacturers to scale up the production of Covaxin and Covishield.
The protestors asked the government to license vaccine production widely to more pharma companies with technological capabilities, instead of a few companies, provide regulatory clearance to start local production of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, impose price ceiling on COVID-19 medicines and vaccines taking into account the cost of production based formula, transfer the technologies for the production of medicines and vaccines globally. They also articulated the need to waive off IP and facilitation of technology transfer in all relevant international forums at the global level and accelerate diplomatic efforts at G7, G20 and other groupings.
They accused that while developed countries, who were also trying to block IPR waiver for COVID vaccines and medicines, have amended their stance and have announced support to India and South Africa's proposal in WTO, the stance of MNCs and their representative Bill Gates is far from being positive. "They are making all out efforts to maximise their profits by exploiting the worst situation faced by the humanity, especially developing and poor countries," Vikas Chaudhary, Convenor, Delhi State, said.
Protesters were carrying placards deploring Bill Gates' statement and favouring patent free access to vaccine and medicines.
Gates Foundation's Suzman stated that from the earliest days of the pandemic, the foundation has been working to address the other barriers standing in the way of COVID-19 vaccine supply, including building up manufacturing capacity in low- and middle-income countries, facilitating technology transfers between companies, securing raw materials, and financing procurement and delivery so that safe and effective vaccines make it to people everywhere.
"We are committed to supporting the continued expansion of vaccine manufacturing capacity in countries around the world, including on the African continent. This will not be an immediate fix, but it is important to prepare for future outbreaks. Getting vaccines to everyone who needs them is one of the causes Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates have committed their lives to. The Gates Foundation will use its resources to ensure that work continues and succeeds," the statement added.