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Waive patents for COVID-19 vaccines, treatment to end pandemic, committee told

Experts say Canada needs to turn its COVID-19 aid attention to expanding vaccine production everywhere or the virus will continue to run wild, mutate and bring new waves of disease.
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(Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Experts say Canada needs to turn its COVID-19 aid attention to expanding vaccine production everywhere or the virus will continue to run wild, mutate and bring new waves of disease.

Dr. Madhukar Pai, a Canada Research Chair in epidemiology and global health at McGill University, told the House of Commons foreign affairs committee today he doesn't think rich countries like Canada have learned a thing from the first two years of the pandemic.

The more the virus spreads the more chances it has to mutate, leading to variants like Omicron that are partially escaping vaccine protection.

He predicts that when Omicron-specific vaccines are finally available the cycle will repeat itself, with rich countries snapping up all the initial supplies while citizens of lower-income countries once again will have to wait.

Pai is one of several witnesses telling MPs that Canada has to start actively supporting a proposal to waive patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines and help transfer the technology so they can be made in more countries.

Canada's vaccine equity strategy has largely rested on donating cash to the COVAX vaccine-sharing alliance, along with excess doses from its own supply, and has stayed neutral on a push to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2022.

 

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