Labor calls on the Morrison Government to stop its obstruction and instead work cooperatively to explore all options that ensure developing nations can access safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines in a timely way, ahead of a meeting of the World Trade Organization today.
India and South Africa’s push in the WTO to waive intellectual property rules to allow generic COVID-19 vaccines to be produced is now co-sponsored by 58 countries and supported by 60 (74 per cent of WTO members).
Australia is reported as being one of a few countries leading the charge against the motion, while the US and the EU have indicated they neither support nor oppose the motion.
India is in the grips of a heartbreaking emergency, and Africa, with 16 per cent of the world’s population, has less than two per cent of vaccines.
COVID-19 will not be defeated at home until it is defeated everywhere.
While the waiver of the TRIPS Agreement’s intellectual property (IP) rules is one proposal, this is not the only option to ensure wider vaccine access.
Has the Morrison Government put forward any solutions that would address the concerns of pharmaceutical companies?
Has it proposed other options, like using Article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement to improve vaccine licence access? Or has it simply tried to block potential solutions to what is at its core a global problem?
The Morrison Government must work actively with the WTO and other countries to find practical ways of ensuring all countries have access to safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines.
Not only is it in Australia’s interests – it is the right thing to do.