Ask your federal MP to support fair access to vaccines in low-income countries

July 12, 2021: More than 50,000 Australians have signed petitions asking the Australian Government to support changes to trade rules that would help most people in the world get access to COVID-19 vaccines. Negotiations have started and the Australian government still has not done so. We need to increase the pressure and tell our local MPs to support these changes.

Under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, pharmaceutical companies have a 20-year monopoly on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and each government must negotiate with them on prices and quantities. Rich countries are first in line, but even Australia is experiencing delays. Low-income countries must wait years while the pandemic rages, more infectious strains develop, and millions more die.

Pharmaceutical companies which are lobbying against the waiver have already made billions from vaccines which were largely developed with public funds. As global companies they are also able to avoid paying taxes on these super profits.

Negotiations are now under way before a WTO General Council meeting on July 27 to change WTO rules to put public health before pharmaceutical profits. More than 100 nations have called on the WTO to temporarily waive monopoly rules on vaccines and treatments in order to ramp up global production and reduce costs for fair access for people in low-income countries.

The World Health Organisation, the US and New Zealand are supporting the waiver, but the Australian Government has still not yet done so. The WTO operates on consensus and the support of all member countries is needed.

Email your federal MP and ask them to tell the Trade Minister Dan Tehan to support the temporary waiver to allow low-income countries to get access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments before the WTO General Council meeting on July 27.