Delhi Protest Against Bill Gates for Refusing to Share Vaccine Tech With Developing Nations

© AP Photo / Ludovic MarinPhilanthropist and co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, addresses an audience during the Global Fund to Fight AIDS event at the congress hall in Lyons, central France, Thursday, 10 October 2019.
Philanthropist and co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, addresses an audience during the Global Fund to Fight AIDS event at the congress hall in Lyons, central France, Thursday, 10 October 2019. - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.05.2021
Just days before Joe Biden's administration supported India's proposal to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, Bill Gates spoke out against sharing such patents with developing countries. His remarks have provoked much anger in India, which is battling the second coronavirus wave.

Hindu economic activist group, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, protested against Bill Gates in New Delhi on Friday over his recent remarks that he is not in favour of waiving intellectual property rights (IPR) on vaccine patents, which would enable developing nations to discover the ingredients and produce their own versions. 

Swadeshi Jagran Manch is the economic branch of Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Dr Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convener of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, said that in the present circumstances when everyone on Earth is affected by the pandemic, 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.

His colleague, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch's national convener, R Sundaram, said that even those developed countries which had tried at first to block the patent for coronavirus vaccines and medicines being waived have changed their mind and now support India's and South Africa’s proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the stance of multinational corporations and Bill Gates - whose foundation invested heavily in the production of a vaccine - is hardly positive. 

"They are making all-out efforts to maximise their profits by exploiting the worst situation faced by the humanity, especially by developing and poor countries. It is worth noting that India’s proposal is supported by 100 countries," he said.

Protesters were carrying placards deploring Bill Gates' statement and expressing support for Patent-Free Access to Vaccine and Medicines.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch also reiterated its demand that India's government should either issue a licence under Section 100 or a compulsory licence under section 92 to increase production of coronavirus medicines such as Remdesivir, Faviracire, Tocilizumab and new medicines such as Molnupiravir.

US Microsoft founder, Co-Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, poses for a picture on October 9, 2019, in Lyon, central eastern France, during the funding conference of Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.05.2021
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"The government should facilitate technology transfer of vaccines including the trade secrets to all potential manufacturers to scale up the production of Covaxin and Covishield. And vaccine production should be licensed to more pharma companies with technological capabilities, instead of a few companies," said another SJM representative, Kashmiri Lal.

Vikas Chaudhary, the convener of the Delhi unit, said that the government should provide the regulatory clearance to start the local production of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.

"Impose a ceiling on the COVID-19 medicine and vaccine price taking into account the cost of production-based formula. There is a need to transfer the technologies for the production of medicines and vaccine globally."

The government should highlight the need to waive 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, said the protesters.

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