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New Poll Shows Most Australians Support Change To Trade Rules For Fair Access To Vaccines For Low-income Countries


An Essential Media poll released today shows that 62 per
cent of Australians believe the Australian government should
support the effort to temporarily waive World Trade
Organisation patent rules for COVID-19 vaccines to enable
quicker and fairer access to vaccines for low-income
countries. There was majority support across Coalition,
Labor and Green voters. Only 10 per cent were opposed, with
27 per cent undecided. Full poll results including
methodology are attached.

The poll was commissioned by
Friends of the Earth, Amnesty International, the Australian
Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET), the Australian
Council of Trade Unions, and Union aid Abroad
APHEDA.

Current WTO rules give pharmaceutical
companies 20-year monopoly patents on vaccines. Each
government must negotiate with companies that control both
quantities and price. Rich countries are first in line, but
even countries like Australia are experiencing delays in
supply. Most low-income countries will not have access to
COVID-19 vaccines before
2023 or later
. Millions more will die as new and more
infectious variants continue to appear and to spread to
countries like Australia.

The waiver would increase
global supply through allowing manufacturing on a regional
basis in countries like India and South Africa, which are
already large producers of generic medicines.

India
and South Africa have submitted a revised
proposal
for a temporary waiver supported by the WHO and
over 100 WTO member countries. This proposal is being
negotiated in a series of meetings leading to the WTO
TRIPS Council
meeting on July 20. The WTO operates on
consensus but the Australian government has not yet made a
decision to support the waiver.

“This poll found 66
per cent of Labor voters, 65 per cent of Greens voters and
64 per cent of Coalition voters support the temporary waiver
of WTO rules for COVID-19 vaccines. The government should
listen to Australians and put people’s health first by
supporting the waiver,” said Sam Cossar-Gilbert, Friends
of the Earth’s trade campaigner.

Dr Patricia Ranald,
AFTINET Convener, said: “Most Australians support changes
to WTO rules to supply vaccines for low income countries.
There is a global vaccine shortage which also affects
Australia because supply is controlled by a few companies
which have already made
billions
from vaccines largely developed with public
funds. The government should support WTO rule changes to
increase global supply for all.”

ACTU President
Michele O’Neil said: “The Morrison Government is
standing in the way of cheap access to effective vaccines
for developing countries in our region and around the world.
The decision of this Government to put the profits of
multi-national pharmaceutical companies ahead of providing
access to the vaccines that are needed to end the pandemic
is appalling and weakens the global response to the
virus.”

Kate Lee, Executive Officer Union Aid Abroad
– APHEDA, said: “We are witnessing a COVID-19 tragedy
unfold for millions of people in countries we are working
in, including our nearest neighbours. Indonesia is recording
40,000 cases and 1,000 deaths a day. Lack of vaccines in our
region and in low-income countries globally will cost
hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of lives. This poll
indicates strong public support from Australians for a
temporary waiver of WTO rules for COVID vaccines. We urge
the Australian Government to lead on this and actively
support the waiver.”

Tim O’Connor, Campaigns
Manager, Amnesty International Australia, said: “The timely
development of Covid-19 vaccines was a great achievement,
won in no small part due to public funding. Yet inequitable
access to the fruits of that labour is putting many
countries’ paths out of the pandemic at risk. Access to
effective vaccines and treatments are a human right, and in
reality, the TRIPS Waiver would reduce pressures on vaccine
supplies, something that would certainly benefit countries
like Australia. At the upcoming WTO meeting, our leaders
have the power to make decisions that will shape the future
for many in a Covid-19 free world. We must ensure they make
the right
ones.”

© Scoop Media

 



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