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Australia Must Support Equal Access to Covid-19 Vaccines

The Greens have said that Australia must support a World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal that would waive intellectual property provisions to allow Covid-19 vaccine production to be rolled out and made accessible and affordable to everyone in the global community.

The WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council is meeting this week, with the Covid-19 vaccine on the agenda.

Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Greens spokesperson for International Aid & Development, said:

“This is a matter of global justice, and putting people before the profits of enormous pharmaceutical companies.

“The Covid-19 vaccine is a public good, not a commodity, and access to healthcare is a human right.

“It would be unconscionable - and highly self-defeating - for Australia to allow the Covid-19 pandemic to roll on in the Global South all to the benefit of big pharma.

“All the Global South countries are asking for is to be given access to intellectual property allowing for research, manufacture and supply of vaccines without risking a trade dispute.

“Refusing this will allow pharmaceutical giants to shake down nations that are already struggling under huge debt burdens and the legacy of colonialism. If they can’t pay or take on more debt, then Australia has condemned them to years of lockdowns, social injustice, sickness and death,” she said.

Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens spokesperson for Health, said:

“I'm very concerned about the lack of attention being paid to this issue by the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“When I asked Mr Gaetjens about Intellectual Property Rights and TRIPS Waiver this week during the COVID Senate Committee it was clear they haven’t been engaging with the issue adequately. He said that the new taskforce is not focusing on that issue and that the terms of reference are not part of our taskforce.

“This is not good enough. Australia has a global responsibility and the fact is no one is safe unless we are all safe.

“Australia should also commit to increasing its funding to the COVAX AMC to at least the level of Canada (an additional $135.2m USD). “Big pharma must move to temporarily waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines to facilitate universal access.”

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