Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS-affiliate and sister organisation of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has launched a digital signature campaign demanding universal access to vaccines and medicines from global manufacturers. Through its digital signature campaign, the RSS affiliate has appealed to the WTO to grant a waiver in the provision of intellectual property rights. It has also urged the global pharma companies to voluntarily give patent free rights including technology transfer, passcodes and raw materials to other pharma manufacturers for the sake of humanity.
The organisation is one of the most influential in India regarding economic policy; it has said that many Indian manufacturers have the capacity and expertise to produce essential medicine and vaccines, provided intellectual property rights hurdles are removed and technology transfer and trade secret-related issues resolved.
“To deal with the situation, India needs a sufficient supply of vaccines, medicines and different types of medical equipment. Patent protection is the major barrier to the generic production of these medicines,” Ashwani Mahajan, National Co-Convenor of SJM said on Monday.
Many Indian companies are already making Remdesivir under a voluntary license, however, the quantity is not sufficient to meet the demand, and the price is also very high from the point of view of affordability.
The organisation said that nearly 2 billion doses of vaccine might be required in the next six months; therefore, more companies need to be involved in the manufacturing of the vaccines. “In the wake of increasing demand for vaccines, we call for declaring all medical products required to respond to COVID-19 as a global public good, and put an end to profiteering to serve the needy in these difficult times. In order to make it possible to ensure availability of vaccine and essential medicines for Covid 19, Swadeshi Jagran Manch has started a digital signature campaign,” Mahajan added.
While asking the Indian government to take necessary steps including using its sovereign rights to grant the compulsory license to other pharma manufacturers to produce vaccines and medicines, it has asked the other concerned individuals and organisations to come forward and facilitate Universal Access to Vaccines and Medicines to fight against the pandemic.
Recently, SJM had also organised online and offline protests against Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation over its reported statement that it is not in favour of sharing vaccine formulas with India and other developing countries.