World leaders have agreed that once the development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are completed, these should be made available to everyone for free.

This is amid fury in France after pharmaceutical company Sanofi has announced that it would reserve first shipments of any COVID-19 vaccine for the United States because its government was helping fund the vaccine research. This statement drew outrage from public officials and health experts worldwide.

More than 140 signatories of past and present leaders globally have signed a letter indicating that any vaccine developed should not be patented, and the science should be shared between countries. The signatories called on the World Health Assembly (WHA), the policy-setting body of the UN’s World Health Organization, to rally behind the cause especially since it will hold its annual general meeting next week

Governments and international partners must unite around a global guarantee which ensures that, when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, it is produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge,” the letter said, “The same applies for all treatments, diagnostics, and other technologies for COVID-19.”.

Former presidents and prime ministers among the signatories included Shaukat Aziz, Jan Peter Balkenende, Jose Manuel Barroso, Gordon Brown, Helen Clark, Felipe Gonzalez, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Aleksander Kwasniewski, Mary McAleese, Olusegun Obasanjo, Macky Sall, Nana Akufo-Addo and Juan Manuel Santos.

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