Reaction to Scottish and Welsh Government Joint Statement on Vaccine Inequality

Boris Johnson holding a giant vaccine syringe

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have issued a joint statement in which they “strongly urge” the UK Government to drop its opposition to a temporary suspension of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, as an important step towards increasing access in low-income countries.

Welcoming the joint statement on behalf of the People’s Vaccine Alliance members in Scotland, Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: 

“It is hugely significant that the Scottish and Welsh Governments have united to call out the UK Government’s shameful blocking of international action to address global vaccine inequality.

“The Scottish and Welsh Governments are responsible for public health in their nations and rightly argue that equitable access to vaccines is not only a moral imperative, but also critical to safeguarding global health security.

“With only around 16% of people in low-income countries having received at least one dose, we urgently need a comprehensive waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.

“After a year-and-a-half of stalling and millions of deaths, profit continues to be put before people’s lives. At the same time, it is blatantly obvious that low-income countries cannot rely on inadequate donations of vaccines.

“The UK Government’s opposition to this waiver – backed by over 100 countries – is not only morally shameful but increases the risk that new variants of concern may emerge that place the recovery across the UK in jeopardy too.

“The Prime Minister must finally change course – and make the UK a champion not a blocker on vaccine equity.”

The joint statement by the Scottish and Welsh Government – issued by Neil Gray MSP, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, and Eluned Morgan MS, the Minister for Health and Social Services can be read here:

The statement comes ahead of a key Ministerial meeting at the World Trade organisation from 9-15 June where important negotiations on intellectual property for COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments are expected.

Over 100 countries across the globe are calling for an emergency waiver of World Trade Organization (WTO) pharmaceutical monopoly rules that are standing in the way of increased global vaccine, test and treatment access. However, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Switzerland are blocking a “TRIPS waiver” at the WTO.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance members in Scotland include Oxfam Scotland, Global Justice Now in Scotland, and Christian Aid Scotland. Read more about the Alliance: