Health Professionals call on Morrison govt to support fair global access to COVID-19 vaccines

April 16, 2021: The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are calling on all healthcare and public health professionals and academics to support the removal of legal and technical barriers to COVID-19 medical tools. This will expand the production and distribution of vaccines, treatments, and other tools to help fight COVID-19.

They are gathering signatures in the sector to present an Open Letter to the Morrison government on April 28, 2021. It says in part:

“On the 30th of April, the Australian government will have a chance to support a landmark proposal to temporarily remove legal barriers at the World Trade Organization. The Australian government says it listens to public health and medical opinions.

“We write as Australian health workers and academics in public health and other health disciplines who urge you to forge a strong leadership role for Australia in regards to the global provision of vaccines and other medical tools to fight COVID-19. We acknowledge the effective measures that you and other leaders have taken that have enabled Australia to control the pandemic thus far, however further measures and policy shifts are now required to help bring an end to this pandemic.

We request that the Australian government:

  1. Uses ALL its political, legal, and financial leverage to incentivise or where necessary require pharmaceutical companies globally to share knowledge and transfer technology needed to expand the global production of WHO approved COVID-19 vaccines.
  2. Support the temporary TRIPS waiver at the WTO, in order to remove legal barriers to access and production of COVID-19 medical tools (including vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics).”

As the Morrison government struggles to manage the vaccine rollout, media coverage is starting to take in the global dimensions of the pandemic and the far larger failure of the global vaccination project.