May 11, 2021: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed willingness to explore a waiver of patents on COVID-19 vaccines after US President Joe Biden on May 5, 2021, promoted the plan, reversing the previous US position. France and Italy support this view, but Germany has opposed it.
May 10, 2021: The US now supports changing trade rules to speed up access to COVID-19 vaccines for all - and so should Australia!
Under current trade rules, pharmaceutical companies control access to vaccines, rich countries are at the head of the queue and most people in poor countries will not get vaccines until 2023.
The US, New Zealand and other governments are now supporting a waiver to WTO trade rules that would give quicker access to COVID-19 vaccines for all, but the Morrison government is still resisting.
Media Release, May 6, 2021 “We welcome today’s announcement by the United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai that the US now supports waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr Patricia Ranald, AFTINET Convenor..
May 5, 2021: Pfizer significantly increased revenue projections from its Covid-19 vaccine for the year, as the vaccine sales in the first three months of 2021 lifted the company to a stronger quarterly profit. The vaccine contributed US$3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of 2021.
May 3, 2021: As the World Trade Organisation held yet another failed dialogue on a temporary change to WTO rules to address shortages of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and equipment, 202 international and nation civil society organisations wrote to all heads of state to call for fundamental change to the whole WTO project.
April 29, 2021: Over 700 Australian health care professionals and academics, supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Public Health Association of Australia, have called on the Australian government to support South Africa and India’s proposal in the World Trade Organisation for fair global access to COVID-19 vaccines. The WTO meets again on April 30 to discuss the proposal.
April 28, 2021: April 24 was the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, when an eight-storey garment factory complex collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring another 2,500 workers, almost all women and girls.
It’s a reminder of the unsafe conditions endured by garment workers globally – mainly women. Eight years on, women garment workers are still campaigning for their rights.
April 27, 2021: Current WTO rules give 20-year monopoly patents to pharmaceutical companies resulting in 87 per cent of all vaccines being received by high-income countries. There is a growing movement for fair access for low-income countries. Sign the petition to the government to support the WTO rule change here.
April 22, 2021: The Corporate Europe Observatory has uncovered through a Freedom of Information request the pharmaceutical industry document outlining the position of the pharmaceutical lobby on COVID-19 vaccines to the European Commission in December 2020.
April 21, 2021: The US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has succeeded in imposing indemnity clauses in its vaccine contract with South Africa, but on exposure was forced to drop demands for sovereign assets to be sold to pay for any claims for compensation for adverse effects.
South Africa has a variant of the novel coronavirus which is resistant to the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine but still vulnerable to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.