November 10th, 2021
NDP MPs call on the government to help more people access vaccines
OTTAWA – Yesterday, NDP MP Niki Ashton and NDP Health Critic Don Davies held a press conference to demand that the Liberal government allow Canadian manufacturers to export COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries. Biolyse Pharma, a Canadian company, recently signed an agreement with Bolivia to produce and export 15 million doses of the vaccine, but the federal government has refused to grant the license required to export the vaccine.
"Instead of defending the interests of the pharmaceutical industry, the government of Canada must start working collaboratively with other countries to give low-income countries access to life-saving vaccines,” said Davies. “By blocking the deal between Biolyse and Bolivia, the Liberal government will signal they are not interested in helping the most vulnerable people on earth."
The MPs were joined by Bolivian Vice-Minister of Foreign Trade and Integration Benjamin Blanco, Biolyse spokesperson John Fulton, KEI researcher Luis Gil Abinader, and Council of Canadians organizer Nikolas Barry-Shaw who urged the government to take action and help save lives. In addition to standing with the NDP MPs on the issue, the Council of Canadians activists have introduced a petition asking that Canada authorize the compulsory license and support patent waivers that would allow more access to vaccines across borders. If a license is granted by the government, Biolyse will be capable of producing 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine per year. This mechanism has been used once before to manufacture and export HIV medicine for Rwanda in 2007.
“Canadian law allows for medicine manufactured with a compulsory license to be exported to developing countries, and we ask that Canada recognize the risk that COVID-19 represents to Bolivian and world public health,” said Vice-Minister Blanco.
“We are here today because New Democrats understand fighting COVID-19 is a global effort,” said Ashton. “We will not stop fighting until everyone can get a vaccine because Canada needs to be an international leader in stopping the spread of COVID-19.”