9 September 2021
After months of campaigning by the ACTU, Public Services International (PSI) and the ANMF, Australia has now joined the international push to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
The global campaign, spearheaded by India and South Africa, followed fears that some of the world's biggest corporations were using patents to monopolise profits and prevent the global scaling up of vaccine production, leading to deadly delays in vaccination programs.
A waiver will mean vaccines and supplies can be produced cheaply and at huge scale, making them accessible to deliver to communities quickly and across the world, particularly poorer Third World countries.
The World Health Organisation (WTO) and more than 100 nations including the US had backed the waiver but Australia was among a handful holding out against the change.
A number of countries continue to oppose the waiver, partly because they fear waiving intellectual property rights might discourage pharmaceutical companies from investing in research and development.
Yesterday Trade Minister Dan Tehan, in apparent about turn, said Australia would support the international push to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, just days out from a crucial WTO council meeting on the issue.
Back in February, ANMF (SA Branch) member Tanya Newell featured in a YouTube video released globally, urging world leaders to support a waiver on patents for COVID-19 vaccines.
The video was released by PSI and featured nurses from around the world calling on people to demand our leaders act now on waivers.
“If you were on the Titanic and discovered a way to make lifeboats, would you use a patent to stop others from making them,’’ Tanya said. “Just so you could monopolise production for rich people and let everyone else drown in the meantime?’’
View the video below: