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US Trade Rep Tai and US Religious Leaders meet on WTO rules for fair access to COVID vaccines

August 5, 2021: Leaders of the Catholic, Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ Churches and the trade union centre the AFL-CIO joined Jubilee USA for a meeting with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai yesterday to support the waiving of COVID-19 vaccine patents at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Global interfaith prayers for COVID-19 vaccine equity, while Germany blocks at the WTO

July 28, 2021: Faith leaders from across the globe and from numerous faith traditions gathered together on July 20 both on Zoom and with some 100 participants in person on the National Mall in Washington DC to urge President Joe Biden to share COVID-19 vaccine stockpiles and to advocate for equitable global distribution of vaccines.

RCEP trade deal fails on aged care

July 27, 2021: The Conversation today published a warning about the 15-state Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as the Australian parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties began its public hearings on the agreement, signed last November.

In the oped, AFTINET Convenor Dr Patricia Ranald explained that the trade-in-services chapter does not exempt Aged Care from “lock-in” of existing regulation and requires signatories to “not adversely modify existing regulation in particular services sectors”.

But the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety exposed multiple scandals caused by a lack of qualified staff and poor quality care, and recommended increases in staffing levels, increases in qualifications of staff and changes to licensing arrangements.

Rich countries are first in line for Covid vaccines because a handful of companies control both the price and quantity

Pharmaceutical company patent monopolies are the elephant in the room in the debate about Covid-19 vaccine shortages in Australia.

Most of debate locally has been about whether the federal government ordered enough vaccine doses last year from Pfizer and other companies. This misses the broader point that a handful of pharmaceutical companies control both the price and quantity of vaccines.

Even in the context of a global pandemic, they can set the terms in closed-door negotiations with rich countries. These companies have already made billions from vaccines which were developed at record speeds and supported with public funds.

Dr Patricia Ranald, AFTINET Convenor, explains the situation in today's the Guardian online.

National church and civil society groups urge government to support WTO rule change for fair vaccine access for low-income countries

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                         July 19, 2021

An unusually wide range of national church, public health, aid and development and other civil society groups representing millions of Australians today sent the attached open letter to Government Ministers. The letter urges them to support the proposal for a temporary waiver of patent monopolies on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments that will be discussed at a key meeting of the World Trade Organisation on July 20.

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