Amnesty International has written to Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan, welcoming the Australian Government’s recent commitment to support the waiver on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The waiver, which would help to ensure that COVID-19 medical products, including safe and effective vaccines, can be manufactured quickly and made available and affordable for all now has the support of more than 100 countries.
However, there is still strong opposition to the waiver from key countries like Germany, who continue to advocate for alternative proposals that will not deliver affordable access to vaccines to low income countries where millions are dying and more infectious strains continue to develop. Australia has felt the implications of these current models too, with both Pfizer and Moderna refusing to allow local production in Australia. If rich pharmaceutical companies continue to control vaccine access, millions more will die.
We’ve already seen countries such as the United States, who have indicated their support publicly for the TRIPS waiver, play only a passive role in negotiations, and progress has stalled. Public support alone is not enough. The Australian Government must now put its words into action and work with other supportive countries to help lead the passage of the TRIPS waiver at the upcoming WTO meetings to put people over profits.