Biden Vaccine Summit and Quad vaccine donations not enough to end global vaccine inequality: waiver campaign continues

September 27, 2021: Trade justice and public health activists expressed disappointment at the outcomes of last week’s Biden Vaccine Summit held on September 22 and the Quad meeting of the US, India, Japan and Australia held on September 24.

Before the meetings AFTINET and other national Australian trade justice, public health, church, union, environment and human rights groups condemned the current state of global vaccine inequality, 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.

These National organisations noted that vaccine donations alone cannot address this massive shortfall, and called on the Australian and other governments to take steps to enact the waiver for monopolies on COVID vaccines and related products to enable increased production of vaccines to supply low-income countries.

While the US and many developing countries at the vaccines summit expressed support for the waiver at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and for regional vaccine production hubs, the main publicised outcome of the summit was a pledge by the US to purchase 500 million additional doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for the COVAX donation scheme.

The Quad meeting reaffirmed its previous aim to donate 1.2 billion vaccine doses to the Indo-Pacific region by 2022, (of which only 79 million have so far been delivered), and to support a regional manufacturing hub in India.

MSF (Doctors Without Borders) expressed disappointment at the limited outcomes and repeated its demand that that pharmaceutical corporations “share the technology and know-how for mRNA vaccines so that many more manufacturers globally can produce these lifesaving vaccines. The US must also support efforts to eliminate intellectual property barriers on all COVID-19 products, by remaining fully committed to the WTO ‘TRIPS waiver’.”

The next opportunity for negotiations on the intellectual property waiver will be the WTO Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Council meeting on October 13-14, 2021.