Oxfam Scotland reaction to SNP leadership speaking out on vaccine waiver

Boris Johnson holding a giant vaccine syringe

Oxfam Scotland welcomed Ian Blackford’s letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to support the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights for COVID vaccines.

Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said:
“It’s hugely significant that the SNP’s Westminster Leader has answered our call by adding his voice to the growing chorus of those who are demanding urgent action to stop pharmaceutical companies from artificially rationing global vaccine supply by holding lifesaving vaccine recipes and technologies hostage.

“Vaccine inequality is both morally wrong and it places people across Scotland at additional risk from the emergence of dangerous new variants, like Omicron, with epidemiologists warning all along that no one is safe until we all are.

“The UK Government is looking more and more isolated as it continues to stubbornly stand on the wrong side of history by choosing to put protecting patents and big pharma’s profits above saving people’s lives. The Prime Minister must now act: a failure to do so would be short-sighted, self-defeating and shameful.”


For more information and interviews, please contact: Rebecca Lozza, Oxfam Media and Communications Adviser, Scotland and Wales: rlozza1@oxfam.org.uk / 07917738450     

Notes to Editors 

  • Oxfam is a member of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. The People’s Vaccine Alliance is a movement of health, humanitarian and human rights organisations, past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders and economists advocating that COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured rapidly and at scale, as global common goods, free of intellectual property protections and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge:  https://peoplesvaccine.org/ 
  • Members in Scotland include Oxfam Scotland, Global Justice Now Scotland and Christian Aid Scotland, who have been calling for the First Minister to speak out and urge the Prime Minister to reverse his opposition to plans proposed over a year ago by India and South Africa– and supported by over 100 countries including the US – for a temporary waiver to the TRIPS agreement – an agreement signed by all members of the World Trade Organisation. The TRIPS agreement which sets particular standards for the protection of intellectual property rights – specifically for all COVID-19 health technologies, including vaccines. 
  • 55 MSPs currently support a motion in the Scottish Parliament, calling on the Prime Minister to support the TRIPS waiver: https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-and-committees/votes-and-motions/votes-and-motions-search/S6M-00293  
  • Two weeks ago, International Development Minister Jenny Gilruth stressed the need for vaccine technology and know-how, currently kept secret by big pharma, to be shared while delivering a statement in the Scottish Parliament. 
  • On Monday, SNP party members approved a new motion calling for the party’s politicians to push for the “release of patents on the vaccines and the vaccine process” to boost global production and help tackle deep vaccine inequality.  Alongside the vote, the SNP’s International Development spokesperson, Chris Law MP, has specifically called for the UK to play its part by “waiving intellectual rights to vaccine patents”, a direct recommendation of the People’s Vaccine Alliance.