The South African and Indian Governments are calling on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to apply an emergency three-year waiver on intellectual property trade rights for COVID-19 vaccines. This would allow developing countries to produce their own vaccines, without being held hostage to the big pharmaceutical companies.
In a global crisis, human rights and human health should come before corporate profits. RTBU President Shayne Kummerfeld today wrote to the Prime Minister calling on the Australian Government to support the proposal in the WTO.
SUPPORT FOR INDIA AND SOUTH AFRICA’S PROPOSAL TO WAIVE PATENTS AT THE WTO TO FIGHT COVID-19
Dear Prime Minister,
I write to you on behalf of the 31,000-plus members of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union.
Our Union is deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on people in developing countries and the ‘global south’. Access to life-saving medicines, treatments, PPE and vaccines should not be restricted to wealthy countries who can afford to buy a place in the ‘queue’. Indeed, we contend that equitable access to vaccines is a fundamental human rights issue, and must be treated as such by the international community.
To that end, we fully support the proposal by the South African and Indian Governments for an emergency three-year waiver on intellectual property rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) specifically related to the prevention, containment and treatment of the COVID-19 virus.
We understand that over 120 countries have supported the proposal from South Africa and India, however the Australian Government is yet to do so. This is a global emergency – if the international community does not agree to the proposed TRIPS Waiver, then it is inevitable that millions of people in developing countries will die from COVID-19.
We therefore urge the Australian Government to support this proposal at the TRIPS Council meeting of the World Trade Organisation on 8 June 2021.