Lawyers and human rights activists announced on Thursday that they wanted to take legal action against Germany and other countries accused of blocking negotiations for the lifting of patents on anti-Covid vaccines.

The German, Norwegian and Canadian governments have been threatened with legal action if they continue to block this measure, announced the lawyers from different countries and representatives of several non-governmental organizations.

In a statement, they said they had also warned the British government that its refusal to support the lifting of patents violated international law.

"Throughout this pandemic, the British government has put the interests of large pharmaceutical companies before the need to save lives around the world," denounces Nick Dearden of the NGO Global Justice Now, quoted in the press release.

"Send a clear message"

"The pinnacle of this approach is that they have blocked, on several occasions, the only measure that the vast majority of the world demands: the renunciation of intellectual property rules at the WTO," continued the statement, which said it hoped to "send a clear message ”. The NGOs Movement Law Lab, Oxfam, Amnesty International and Médecins sans frontières are also among the organizations behind this initiative.

This comes a few days before the ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization in Geneva at which 150 ministers are expected to discuss in particular the lifting of patents. India and South Africa have taken the lead since the end of 2020 in the movement in favor of the temporary removal of intellectual property protections on vaccines or treatments against Covid-19. They say it would boost production and help address inequality in access to vaccines between rich and poor nations.

Several countries hosting large pharmaceutical companies are opposed, arguing that patents are not the main obstacle to increasing production.

Miriam Saage-Maass, of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, explained that she helped a Ugandan citizen without access to the vaccine to file a complaint in Germany, acknowledging that the complaint is mainly aimed at putting pressure on Germany so that it changes its position.

The coordination of procedures happened in rich countries because "we really felt that we had to challenge our governments to deal with this apartheid of vaccines," she added.

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  • Coronavirus

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