May 19, 2021: US Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with South African and Indian Ministers on May 13 and 14 to discuss COVID-19 vaccine production and the waiver of World Trade Organisation intellectual property rules proposed by the two countries last October.
May 17, 2021: Unless all countries can vaccinate against COVID-19 in the next 12 months, new variants of the coronavirus are likely to force ongoing lockdowns even in countries like the USA and UK, which are rapidly vaccinating their entire populations, argued Dr Deborah Gleeson in the Canberra Times. Dr Gleeson is an associate professor in public health at La Trobe University.
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.