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.
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 14, 2021: The Australian Council of Trade Unions condemned the Federal Government at a parliamentary inquiry hearing into Myanmar on April 13, 2021, for pressing ahead with ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement which includes trade with Myanmar.
April 8, 2021: Pakistan’s Board of Investment has prepared a strategy to withdraw from all inhibiting clauses in the 53 Bilateral Investment Treaties the country has with 48 countries, including Australia.
The major concerns are provisions related to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). These shrink the policy space for the government to adopt measures in the public interest.
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.