LAHORE: The Progressive International has called for speeding up Covid vaccination by removing patents and transferring free-of-cost technology to produce vaccines across the world.

The call was made at an online summit of the forum that works to unite progressive forces across the world. The summit brought together the Global South governments, political leaders, healthcare workers and vaccine manufacturers from over 20 countries.

They included former leader of UK Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and Colombia’s opposition leader Gustavo Petro and representatives from healthcare unions from the US, Brazil and India. MNA Mohsin Dawar and Haqooq-i-Khalq Movement leader Farooq Tariq participated from Pakistan.

The summit believed that with only 6.2pc of the world population fully vaccinated against Covid-19 right now, 57 years would be needed for the low-income countries to fully vaccinate their population at the current rate.

Mr Corbyn said the cheaper, faster and fairer way to vaccinate the world was to waive the vaccines patents, share the technology and enable governments everywhere to manufacture them to provide for their citizens.

Mr Varoufakis regretted that rich countries’ central banks had printed over $9tr, much of which had just propped up the wealth of billionaires while they had failed to fund global vaccinations, which the IMF had estimated would cost $50bn.

Chief Minister of Indian state of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, told the summit that Kerala was ready to produce vaccines if it received the necessary technology.

Bolivian foreign minister Rogelio Mayta Mayta called for an ideological shift within the global health system from competition to cooperation.

Mr Dawar said the West was talking about a post-Covid world while the poor countries had not even been able to vaccinate 5pc of their population.

He stressed the importance of debt relief for Pakistan while also calling for a global effort against increasing militarism, which could divert attention and resources from the fight against the pandemic.

Farooq Tariq said the governments must immediately allocate sufficient funds to provide free vaccines to all citizens and warned against dangers of ‘vaccine nationalism’ as Covid-19 could not be defeated within a specific country and required a global effort.

He demanded suspension of Pakistan’s debt obligations for at least four years to enable it divert the funds towards public health.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2021

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