Days after American billionaire Bill Gates said in an interview that he would not be willing to share COVID-19 vaccine patents or IP rights with developing countries like India, his philanthropy organisation has come out out with a contradictory statement.
CEO of the Gates Foundation Mark Suzman has released a statement saying that no barriers should stand in the way of equitable access to vaccines.
"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been working urgently since January 2020 with a range of partners to help COVID-19 vaccines reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Today, with the heartbreaking surges in India and Brazil, and the lack of vaccines across African countries, it is clear there's much more to be done", said Suzman.
"No barriers should stand in the way of equitable access to vaccines, including intellectual property, which is why we are supportive of a narrow waiver during the pandemic. Those negotiations will occur via the WTO process, led by country negotiators", he stated.
Suzman's statement is seen as an attempt at damage control that Bill Gates's position has brought about in India and around the globe. On Saturday, a protest was held against Bill Gates and his philanthropy organisation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation by the Hindu economic activist group, Swadeshi Jagran Manch over his recent remarks that he is not in favour of waiving intellectual property rights on vaccine patents.
Gates was slammed by the group, an affiliate of Rasthriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in India for "trying to block equitable access to vaccines and medicines". He had come under attack from various quarters for not being true to his philanthropy work.
Indian author and actor Suhel Seth termed him a "vulture".
This wretch @BillGates now says that vaccine formulae should NOT be shared with India. Does he not know that until the last citizen on the planet is safe, no one is safe? Shame on this so called philanthropist. He is nothing but a vulture. Well done @melindagates : good call.— SUHEL SETH (@Suhelseth) May 6, 2021