February 1, 2021: World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a briefing on January 29, “If we hoard vaccines and we are not sharing, there will be three major problems. One, I have said it, it will be a catastrophic moral failure and two it keeps the pandemic burning and three very slow global economy recovery”.
World Trade Organisation
January 25, 2021: The Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce has commissioned a team of economists affiliated with Harvard University, the University of Maryland and Istanbul’s Koc University, to examine trade data across 35 industries in 65 countries, which explores the economic impacts of unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
January 21, 2021: Incoming US President Joe Biden has immediately issued Executive Orders which reverse major Trump policies over the last four years, beginning with re-joining the World Health Organisation and plans to address deadly COVID-19 pandemic, reversing his environmental agenda including re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement, cancelling his anti-immigration policies, bolstering the economy and restoring federal efforts to promote diversity.
International trade agreements didn’t feature.
January 19, 2021: The World Trade Organisation TRIPS Council is today debating again the proposal by India and South Africa, supported by 100 countries, to waive various intellectual property provisions on COVID technology. Big Pharma has defended its 20-year monopoly on new medicines and the MSF medicine access movement has rebutted their claims.
January 13, 2021: Medicines experts Professors Ronald Labonte and Brook Baker explain in The Conversation why 100 developing country members of the World Trade Organisation’s 164 members are demanding a temporary waiver of some intellectual property rights, supported by hundreds of public health and other community organisations.
December 15, 2020: The Report of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Australia’s foreign affairs defence and trade policies was tabled in Parliament on December 8.
December 14, 2020: The World Trade Organization TRIPS Council failed to act on December 10, 2020, on the proposal by South Africa and India to temporarily waive some intellectual property rights, so that Covid-19 medical products and vaccines could be more easily accessible, especially for low-income countries.
December 7, 2020: An Open Letter from the World Federation of Public Health Associations to the World Trade Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and to the UN Secretary-General is aimed at a breakthrough on access to vaccines at the December 9 session of the TRIPS Council of the WTO.
December 1, 2020: Any COVID-19 vaccines need to be freely accessible to all countries, but this requires a waiver to some World Trade Organisation rules, argues Rachel Thrasher, a Research Fellow at Boston’s Global Development Policy Center.
November 23, 2020: The United States, the European Union and other mainly wealthy nations gathered in Geneva on November 21, 2020, to reiterate their opposition to a proposal to waive intellectual property rules for COVID-19 drugs, according to a Reuters report, despite pressure to make an exception to improve access to these drugs for poorer countries.