On April 7, RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) organised online and offline protests against Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Bill Melinda Gates Foundation. The protest was organised against Bill Gates’ reported statement that he does not favour sharing vaccine formula with India and other developing countries. Recently, in a statement issued in the United States, the Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman 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. SJM, in a statement, said, “Though developed countries who were also trying to block IPR waiver for COVID-19 vaccines and medicines, have amended their stance and have announced support to India and South Africa’s proposal in World Trade Organization (WTO), the stance of MNCs and their representative Bill Gates is far from being positive”. SJM alleged that MNC’s are making all-out efforts to maximise their profits by exploiting the worst situation faced by humanity, especially developing and poor countries. During the protest, the protesters were carrying placards deploring Bill Gates statement and favouring ‘Patent Free Access’ to Vaccine and Medicines. SJM reiterates it’s demand from the Government of India to issue either government use license under Section 100 or a compulsory licence under section 92 to scale up production of medicines like Remdesivir, Faviracire, Tociluzumab and new medicines like Molnupiravir. Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convener of SJM told Organiser that the whole world is affected due to the century’s worst pandemic and when there’s an acute shortage of essential medicines, and vaccination is deemed the only way to keep large populations safe, trying to block equitable access to vaccines and medicines is not just deplorable, it is a crime against humanity. The organisation also demanded to facilitate 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. They also asked the government to provide the regulatory clearance to start the local production of the Sputnik V vaccine, impose celling of prices of COVID19 medicines and vaccines taking into account the cost of production based formula and transfer the technologies for the production of medicines and vaccine globally. Manch also articulated the need to waiver of 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. Those who attended included R Sundaram, National Convenor, Ashwani Mahajan, National Co-Convenor, Kashmiri Lal, National Organiser, Satish Kumar, National Co-Organiser, Kamal Jit National Joint Public Relation Incharge and Vikas Chaudhary Convenor Delhi, SJM.
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