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JOINT STATEMENT ON COVID VACCINES

07.04.2021

Firstly, we, the undersigned, call on all residents of the Republic of Mauritius to take up Covid vaccinations. Vaccination against Covid protects the individual, his or her family, friends and colleagues; it protects frontline workers who, in caring for us all, bear the brunt of the epidemic; and also, importantly, it shields the entire community, including those who cannot take the vaccine - for reasons of health, age, pregnancy. 


In particular, we call on health workers, and other front-liners including educators, who have not yet been vaccinated, to do so. Health workers, especially nurses, need to reassure the public – including those scared of needles – and, to do this, they need to be vaccinated themselves. Health workers also have, by way of the nature of their profession, an ethical duty to those in their care, who are often, by definition, fragile. They need to avoid inadvertently giving them the virus, while caring for them. The vaccine is now known to reduce sharply the risk of spreading the illness.


In addition, because of the importance of health care during an epidemic, both health care workers and the public have a duty of care towards the universal, free health care system, itself. 


Secondly, we call on the Government to support, and actively promote, the initiative of the Indian and South African Governments at the World Trade Organization from October 2020 to get a ban on “patents” for Covid vaccines. This means lifting the monopoly over Covid-19 vaccines that allows this scientific progress to be hoarded as the property of private companies, while people die in the epidemic. We note that China already placed the genome sequencing of the Novel Coronavirus in the public domain in early January 2020, as soon as it had completed the work. We also note that public funds were used in many rich countries for vaccine research. We, therefore, call for vaccine developments to be put in the public domain right away, where they belong. This way everyone can soon get the vaccines at cost price. Quoting the South African representative at the WTO in an article in medical journal, The Lancet, “What this waiver [of intellectual property rights] proposal does is it opens space for further collaboration, for the transfer of technology and for more producers to come in to ensure that we have scalability in a much shorter period of time.” At the WTO, the Indian representative said, “On one hand, these [rich] countries are buying up as much of the limited supply as they can, leaving no vaccines ... for developing and least-developed countries. On the other hand, and very strangely, these are the same countries who are arguing against the need for the waiver that can help increase the global manufacturing and supply to achieve not just equitable, but also timely and affordable access to such vaccines for all countries.” The most recent edition of the scientific journal “Nature” has an editorial supporting the India-South Africa call.


A ban on patents is important for practical reasons, too. It is often the private “big pharma” companies, and their concomitant profit-motive, that fuel the anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.


This kind of ban on patents has a precedent in HIV-Positive medication.


Thirdly, we call on everyone to continue to wear masks fitting snuggly above the nose, to keep social distance, to keep windows open, and to practice regular, thorough hand-washing. This is not only in our individual interest, in the interest of our family and the whole of society, but a duty of care that we, in turn, owe all hospital workers. Keeping the epidemic in control, spares hospital workers from risky, hard work.


And finally, we call for Government to consolidate the universal, free health care service by recruiting additional staff (esp. nursing and records staff) and thus working towards the perfection of this health service for all. At the same time, we, the undersigned, call for an alliance between health workers and patients to build such a perfected health service for all of us in the country.


Name                                      Name of Organization  


Vinod Seegum                          Confederation of General Trade unions(CGTU)


Iqbal Amiran                            Government Services Employees Association(GSEA)


Jane Ragoo                               Confédération des Travailleurs des Secteurs Public et Privé(CTSPP)


Deepak Benydin                        Federation of Parastatal Bodies & Other unions (FPBOU)


Ram Nowzadick                       Nursing Association(NA)


Rajni Lallah                              Muvman Liberasyon Fam (MLF) 


Norman Tambanivoul                Centre Idrice Goomany (CIG)


Mosadeq Sahebdin                    Consumer Advocacy Platform (CAP)


Alain Ah Vee                            LALIT