AstraZeneca deserves 'huge credit' says Matt Forde
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Shami Chakrabarti supported the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver which suspends the patent protections surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and is promoted by the World Health Organisation. The Labour Party peer added people should not simply side with “big pharma” which drew the ire of comedian Matt Forde, who said there was a lot to be thankful for thanks to AstraZeneca and other drug companies. The pair clashed with Baroness Chakrabarti stating her views were backed by President Joe Biden and the Pope, a comment that made Mr Forde burst out in laughter as he jokingly asked if the Easter Bunny also supported her.
The US government announced it would support the TRIPS waiver and is the only major power to back the agreement.
The waiver would allow patents and intellectual property rights to be temporarily suspended to allow manufacturers and countries to develop vaccines that are owned by AstraZeneca or other pharmaceutical companies.
Europe, UK, Australia, Japan and many other manufacturing countries had been strongly opposed to the move which they believe will harm the global effort rather than help it.
Some argue the release of patents will not mean developing countries are able to create the vaccines themselves as resources are scarce.
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Others argue keeping the patents would allow companies to have better control over the vaccines by being able to track where they are being distributed and to control quality.
Baroness Chakrabarti welcomed the TRIPS waiver and told BBC’s Politics Live: “President Biden, the Pope and all these Nobel laureates are saying let’s have a TRIPS waiver that is recommended by the WHO.
“And not just side with big pharma and actually share knowledge and technology and recipes and capacity to vaccinate the world.”
But Mr Forde was offended by the remarks on pharmaceutical companies and came to their defence.
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He told the programme: “I just think this big pharma thing is kind of an immature thing to be saying.
“Without pharmaceutical companies, we wouldn’t have these vaccines and I think AstraZeneca and others deserve huge credit for putting their brightest minds [on the vaccine].
“And I think this weird hard-left view that all private enterprise is negative or sinister is odd and it certainly does not chime with the public who are grateful that AstraZeneca have don’t it.
“Without AstraZeneca, I wouldn’t have had two jabs, I wouldn’t have the protection I’ve got.
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“Thank god for pharmaceutical companies!”
Baroness Chakrabarti defended her statement by saying her “hard-left” view was backed by the pope and President Biden.
Mr Forde could be heard laughing in the background as he joked the Easter Bunny or Jesus also supported her.
The World Health Organisation is also running the COVAX programme which is funded by WHO members and will supply vaccines to less economically developed countries.
Pharmaceutical companies have also donated vaccines to the programme with Moderna offering 500 million doses at its lowest-tiered price.
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