It is predicted that more than 85 poor countries will not have access to widespread COVID-19 vaccines until 2023 due to intellectual property laws. The intellectual property laws prevent the production of cheaper vaccines which the World Health Organization Director-General describes as a 'catastrophic moral failure'.
Together with several other Australian civil society organisations, we are urging the Australian Government to support a proposal sponsored by India and South Africa, that would waive some of the intellectual property laws' provisions.
The waiver would last for the entirety of the pandemic and covers medicines, vaccines and technologies like masks and ventilators - allowing for a coordinated response to the pandemic, including a widespread rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The proposal will be discussed on 10-11 March at a WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIP) Council meeting.
"The alarming spread of the COVID virus in our nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, demonstrates to Australians how serious this crisis is. Vulnerable poor countries need access to the vaccine as a matter of urgency, and supporting the Indian/South African proposal at the WTO is a vital step towards making this happen," Luke Fletcher, Executive Director of Jubilee Australia, said.
No one is safe unless everyone is safe. To overcome this pandemic, we need global cooperation and solidarity.
Download the letter to the Australian government here.