COVID-19 vaccine patents - vigil at Australian Consulate San Francisco

June 3, 2021: Californians gathered at the Consulate of Australia in San Francisco on June 2, 2021 for a vigil remembering those who have died from COVID-19 and calling on the government of Australia to support policies needed to increase global access to vaccines and treatments.  

“Ending a global pandemic requires global solutions. While Californians increasingly have widespread access to COVID vaccination, huge numbers of people around the world aren’t expected to have access to a vaccine for years unless global production is dramatically increased,” said Will Jamil Wiltschko of the California Trade Justice Coalition. “We’re calling on the government of Australia to stand with the more than one hundred countries around the world in supporting the intellectual property waiver that’s needed for COVID vaccines and treatments to be produced in as many places as possible as quickly as possible.”

Organizers delivered a letter calling on Australia to support the emergency waiver of “Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights” (TRIPS) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that was first introduced by India and South Africa and would enable COVID vaccines and treatments to be produced in more locations.  The waiver proposal will be discussed at the WTO’s TRIPS Council meeting on June 8 and 9. 

The United States, Russia and China recently announced their support for a TRIPS waiver for COVID vaccines, joining over 100 other nations who had earlier backed the concept. Australia is increasingly isolated as one of the only countries that has not come out in favour of the waiver.