Why new Omicron variant highlights the urgent need to lift vaccine patents

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The emergence of the new variant of Covid-19 called Omicron should serve as a wakeup call to rich countries that unless the whole world is given access to vaccines the pandemic is doomed to continue. Instead, the new variant was given as the reason why a key meeting at the World Trade Organisation to debate the temporary lifting of intellectual property rights on vaccines was postponed indefinitely. Rozenn Le Saint reports on the anger of French activists at the lack of progress on what they see as a key issue in tacking the pandemic in poorer countries.

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Save lives rather than preserve profits. That was the message of a demonstration staged by the collective group 'Brevets sur les vaccins anti-Covid, stop. Réquisition!' ('Stop Covid vaccine patents. Requisition!') in Paris on Tuesday November 30th. The gathering took place in the Place de la Bourse around candles representing the lives that could have been spared if Covid vaccine patents had been lifted. The protest had been timed to coincide with a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva.