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Waive WTO copyrights on Covid-19 medical products!

The Covid-19 waiver is supported by the World Health Organization, UN Human Rights Experts, UNITAID and UNAIDS. See PSI's statement on these proposals below.

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PSI is urging governments to support the proposal backed by India, South Africa, Kenya and close to a hundred countries for a WTO waiver on Covid-19 vaccines.

Our affiliates' members have unremittingly delivered vital public services throughout the pandemic. And we are concerned that the monopoly powers given to pharmaceutical companies by the World Trade Organization's agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) will mean companies can make extravagant profits, while workers and the public have made efforts and sacrifices, working tirelessly and sometimes in extremely difficult circumstances, to ensure we overcome the crisis.

If these waivers are not implemented, pharmaceutical companies will be able to prevent other manufacturers from producing Covid-19 vaccines and medicines, impeding scaling up of production. WTO rules ensure big pharma has a monopoly over the market and can dictate prices even to governments, which will consume public finances required for a healthy recovery.

Key Info (1)

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The Covid-19 waiver is supported by the World Health Organization, UN Human Rights Experts, UNITAID and UNAIDS. See PSI's statement on these proposals below.

We encourage your union to reach out to your national government to ensure they are aware that health workers and other public services workers expect them to support these proposals. In order to be implemented, the waiver proposal has to be endorsed by the WTO's General Council before the end of the year. The TRIPS Council is the body in charge of reviewing the proposal and forwarding it to the WTO General Council for endorsement.

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Key Updates (10)

PSI+AFFILIATES STATEMENT: EU’s Commitment Urgently Needed on Vaccine Scale Up and TRIPS Waiver

On the eve of Chancellor Merkel’s visit to the USA, over 10 million health workers in the United States, Europe and 150 countries, appeal to Angela Merkel to show leadership in Europe and join the United States in support of health workers and citizens who desperately need the WTO waiver of intellectual property (IP) protection measures for Covid-19 health technologies (TRIPS Waiver).

We Demand TRIPS Waiver Now - Save lives in India & across South Asia

By the third week of May, India has recorded 26.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 300,000 deaths. The situation is no better across other countries in the region. More than half a million cases have been recorded in Nepal with 6,000 deaths. Infection rates have spiked from less than 1,000 persons per day in April to almost 7,000 in May. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan face similar fates.

Frontline Health Workers ask rich countries to share the vaccine, support the TRIPS waiver

After the US administration announced its support for the proposal to suspend patents on Covid-19 vaccines and other technologies, community health workers from Pakistan, known as Lady Health Workers (LHW), wrote to 13 waiver-sceptic governments to urge them to share the vaccine and support the TRIPS waiver tabled at the World Trade Organisation by South Africa, India, Pakistan and other developing countries.

USA: universal vaccine allies demand action on TRIPS waiver

Trade unionists, healthcare rights organizations, consumer advocates, environmentalists, social justice and civil society organizations demonstrated at a rally calling for a waiver on intellectual property protections currently preventing universal access to the vaccine. In the middle of the demonstration, it was announced that the Joe Biden administration had just indicated its support for this initiative.

Global call: vaccines for all!

Public Services International and its affiliates, together with other trade union organizations, social movements and civil society organizations call on workers from all over the world to mobilize this April 7, World Health Day, to demand that governments and agencies act to guarantee universal and immediate access to immunization against Covid-19 for all.

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Why the Australian government has so far failed to support a patent waiver for vaccine equity

Academics have told SBS News they fear the influence from pharmaceutical companies is holding the Australian government back from publicly supporting the waivers for COVID-19 vaccines.


Universal access to Covid-19 vaccine is possible if governments agree to WTO waiver

Statement by Public Services International

Workers who have been delivering vital public services throughout the pandemic call on members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to support the proposal of India, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique and Eswatini, for a “Waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19”.

Intellectual property (IP) rules put in place to protect the profits of pharmaceutical companies are a threat to global public health and will make economic recovery impossible for developing countries in particular.

The pandemic has demanded extraordinary sacrifices from workers around the world. In some countries, health care workers have worked in dangerous conditions, often without appropriate PPE, extended hours and often with little or no time off. Thousands of health care workers have died. Hundreds of millions of workers have lost their jobs and livelihoods. Pharmaceutical companies should not be allowed to profit from the pandemic by enforcing monopoly power while everyone else has made efforts and sacrifices to overcome the crisis.

A global recovery will require every country to have access to all information, research and medical products needed to treat the virus and prevent its spread. If critical information is kept secret in the interests of profits or “vaccine nationalism”, millions of people will be unnecessarily infected.

Health workers, scientists, public sector researchers and patients have routinely shared the information they gather on the virus, confident that sharing information will contribute to public health. Much of the information that pharmaceutical companies utilise is drawn from public sector research, public health institutions, public technologies and public sector workers. Many vaccines and treatment for COVID 19 are financed through government support. The rules under the TRIPS Agreement (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) obligate countries to allow big pharma companies to privatise innovation achieved with public funding.

IP rules also allow pharmaceutical companies to prevent other manufacturers from producing COVID-19 vaccines and medicines, impeding scaling up of production. These rules ensure big pharma has a monopoly over the market and can dictate prices even to governments, which will consume public finances required for a healthy recovery.

The Doha Declaration on Public Health reaffirmed the flexibilities contained in the TRIPS agreement to address the public health needs of WTO member states. However, while some member states included TRIPS flexibility in their national laws, many did not. Further, wealthy countries often exert political pressure on developing countries against the use of TRIPS flexibilities.

All governments committed to global public health should demonstrate a commitment to solidarity by supporting the COVID-19-related waiver proposal and making the waiver of TRIPS obligations for least developed countries permanent. To overcome the unprecedented challenge that the COVID-19 pandemic presents, we need all countries and all parts of society to contribute.

Public Services International represents more than 30 million workers, including healthcare workers, aged care workers, water, sanitation and energy workers, emergency service workers, and workers who keep local, provincial and federal government services and administration working. We will work with our affiliates to ensure national governments are aware that health workers and other public services workers expect them to support these WTO proposals.

Monopoly patents or vaccines for all?

Civil society and trade unions from the Global South are calling on rich countries’ leaders to stop blocking a proposal to waive vaccine patents.

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