Pandemic Accord Hoax Highlights Hypocrisy

Pandemic Accord Hoax Highlights “blatant hypocrisy” of US and EU approach to Big Pharma

Release date: 14 February 2024

People’s Vaccine Alliance reveals it was behind supposed US-EU reversal on pandemic intellectual property rules

Campaigners caused havoc in Geneva yesterday by claiming that the United States and European Union delegations to the World Health Organization had reversed their opposition to easing intellectual property rules in future pandemics.

An account on X (formerly known as Twitter) reported the supposed “breaking news” from the WHO’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, announcing that the US and EU would support measures in a Pandemic Accord to help lower-income countries override patents and other intellectual property rules in an emergency, sharing a link to a “US and EU joint statement” appearing to be on the EU and White House websites.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a global coalition of civil society organisations campaigning for a fairer global response to health crises, has claimed responsibility for the stunt. The Alliance intends to highlight the “blatant hypocrisy” of the US and EU for announcing reforms to ensure intellectual property rules do not undermine access to medicines within their own borders, while blocking similar measures for lower-income countries.

The US issued dozens of “government use” licenses to forcibly use patented technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic and has announced plans to use federal “march-in” rights to break monopolies when medicine prices are too high for Americans. The European Commission has proposed a regional compulsory licensing system to secure equitable access within the EU.

In the statement, appearing in the style of the White House and EU websites, the administrations “announced” their support for embedding the same measures into the WHO global Pandemic Accord. The statement admitted to having “so far insisted on protecting the biopharmaceutical industry’s monopoly,” instead of “pursuing policies that would guarantee timely, adequate, and affordable equitable access to life-saving health technologies.”

Governments have been working towards a Pandemic Accord since December 2021. But, with just two rounds of official negotiations before the WHO’s 21st May deadline, the talks on several critical issues remain deadlocked. Despite taking measures to help their own populations secure medicines in future health crises, rich countries are refusing to approve measures in the Accord that will help the Global South to do the same.

Brook Baker, Professor at Northeastern University School of Law and senior policy analyst at Health GAP (Global Access Project), said:

“The US and EU have taken measured steps to make sure that intellectual property rules don’t stop their own populations from accessing medical technologies during COVID and future health crises. But it’s been blatant hypocrisy for them to stand in the way of low- and middle-income countries doing the same.

“We have pulled a prank to highlight this deadly double-standard. If the Pandemic Accord doesn’t include clear and comprehensive provisions allowing low- and middle–income countries to overcome Big Pharma’s monopoly control over supply, price, and distribution of vaccines, medicines, and diagnostics, we’ll see the savage inequity of COVID-19 and AIDS repeated in the next pandemic.”

Dr Mohga Kamal-Yanni, Policy co-lead for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said:

“In almost every global health crisis, it has been one rule for rich countries and another for everyone else. Keeping the current system will always result in shameful injustice. The world needs binding measures that ensures everyone’s life is valued equally, wherever they may live.

“This statement was fake – but shows a genuine area where equity measures should be possible. The very least the US and EU can do is to embed their own domestic proposals in the Accord, so that every country can take the same actions in the next health crisis.”


Notes for editors
A briefing on the double standards in the EU and US negotiating positions is available here:
The hoax X thread is available here:
Spokespeople are available for comment.

Media Contact:
Joe Karp-Sawey, Senior Media Advisor, People’s Vaccine Alliance
[email protected]