The former Labour prime minister said that joint international action was needed to stop people making excessive profits from selling in-demand ventilators, testing kits and protective clothing for medical staff. The huge influx of patients suffering from COVID-19 has placed enormous strains on health services around the world, who are desperately trying to access these essential medical products. Mr Brown argued that the best way to solve this problem was for the international community to come together and pool resources in a collective effort to defeat the virus.
He implored the G20 group of industrialised nations to avoid a “dog eat dog” bidding war for such supplies, while criticising the US, China and Russia for their unilateral approach to the crisis.
The former Labour leader said: “With the healthcare crisis, the idea of individual self-isolation is now commonplace, but on the international stage, national self-isolation has taken off.
“In the post-Cold War unipolar era, America acted multilaterally.
“Now, and in a multipolar era, America acts unilaterally, and aggressive America first, us-versus-them nationalism – along with China first, India first, Russia first, Brazil first, and Turkey first – is going global.
“But even the most isolationist nations must know that it is not enough to stop coronavirus in one country: it has to be stopped in every country.”
Mr Brown urged world leaders to support the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Global Fund’s efforts to coordinate global production of medical supplies to provide an adequate stockpile accessible to every country in need.
He said “The G20 should underwrite and speed up the concerted global effort to develop, manufacture and distribute vaccines and treatments.
“Almost simultaneously every nation also needs at scale, testing kits, ventilators, cleaning chemicals and protective equipment.
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“So, in place of today’s dog-eat-dog bidding wars that encourage profiteering, the G20 should come behind the WHO and Global Fund’s efforts to co-ordinate and vastly increase production and procurement of these key medical supplies and to build, over time, a global inventory, stockpile and workforce, with tariffs and other protectionist barriers removed.
“Nothing should prevent what is mass produced in and for one country, being also mass produced for other countries.”
Mr Brown’s comments come in the wake of German media reports that Donald Trump attempted to secure exclusive rights to a coronavirus vaccine under development by a German company.
According to Die Welt, the US President is alleged to have offered the biopharmaceutical company Curevac “large sums of money” for exclusive access to its work.
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An anonymous source told the German newspaper that Mr Trump was leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to secure a vaccine against the coronavirus for the US, “but for the US only”.
The German health minister Jens Spahn dismissed the notion out of hand, saying that a takeover of Curevac by the Trump administration was “off the table”.
CureVac would only develop vaccine “for the whole world”, Mr Spahn said, “not for individual countries”.
With its headquarters in the south-western German city of Tübingen, CureVac also has sites in Frankfurt and Boston in the US.
Linked with the German health ministry, it works closely with the Paul Ehrlich Institute, a research institution and medical regulatory body that is subordinate to the German health ministry.
Meanwhile, the Dyson company has revealed that Boris Johnson’s government has put in an order for 10,000 ventilators.
The company, which specialises in making household appliances like vacuum cleaners, will manufacture the lifesaving equipment from scratch.
On Wednesday night, the company released pictures and specifications of its Covent prototype.
In a letter to staff the company’s billionaire founder, Sir James Dyson, said the “race is now on to get it into production”.
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