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.
World Trade Organisation
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.
April 19, 2021: Two hundred and fifty global, regional and national civil society organisations delivered the strongest statement yet in support of the waiver of intellectual property rights during the COVID-19 pandemic to World Trade Organisation Director General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on 13 April.
April 7, 2021: A new analysis of the COVAX initiative to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries uncovers major ethical and governance problems as well as health risks for the target countries. COVAX involves the World Health Organisation, governments, philanthropic initiatives like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and pharmaceutical companies in the purchase of vaccines from the companies to make them available to low-income countries.
March 31, 2021: The Biden Administration has come under pressure from almost 100 Congressional Democrats to support the suspension of World Trade Organisation rules on intellectual property during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 23 world leaders are now proposing a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response.
March 23, 2021: Australian government failure to support changes to World Trade Organisation monopoly rules on vaccines is negating its announcements about helping low-income countries to vaccinate their populations against COVID-19, according to Dr Deborah Gleeson’s article in The Conversation.
March 22, 2021: With significant problems emerging in global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the issue of vaccine prices is now emerging as another major problem for a fair, effective and rapid global vaccination program.
The World Trade Organisation rules give 20-year monopoly patents for medicines, which empowers a few global corporations to determine both supply and price, but these rules were never designed for a global pandemic.