National organisations urge PM to act against vaccine monopolies at President Biden’s vaccines summit and Quad meeting this week

Media Release                                                                            September 22, 2021

National public health, church, union, human rights, aid and development and environment organisations today called on the Prime Minister to support the proposal to waive WTO rules for vaccine monopolies in global talks this week, and show its support by becoming a formal sponsor.

While the alliance of organisations welcomed the Government’s recent confirmation of its support for the waiver, it said Australia should play a leadership role on the issue by encouraging the US to take more urgent action and to support the waiver for both vaccines and other COVID-related products at President Biden’s vaccines summit on September 22 and the Quad meeting with the US, India and Japan on September 24.

The temporary waiver of World Trade Organisation rules that give 20-year monopolies for vaccines and COVID-related products is needed urgently because the supply and price of vaccines is controlled by a few companies. Rich countries are first in line, with less than 20 per cent of doses going to low-income countries, and only 1.9 per cent of people in low-income countries having received one dose. Millions are dying while more dangerous variants like Delta develop. Donation programs like COVAX to be discussed at the meetings are also needed, but they alone cannot address this massive shortfall. The waiver is essential to enable increased production in developing countries like South Africa and India which already produce generic medicines.

Endorsed by: AFTINET, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Amnesty International, Public Services International, ActionAid, Public Health Association of Australia, Oxfam Australia, Catholic Bishops Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace, Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA, Friends of the Earth Australia, SumOfUs.

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