World Health Assembly vaccine agreement not fit for purpose – Oxfam

Campaigns and Advocacy, Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 20 May 2020

Commenting on a resolution on access to coronavirus vaccines, treatments and tests that has been agreed by Health Ministers at the World Health Assembly overnight, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said:

“Oxfam, along with other major organisations and former world leaders, economists and health experts, had urged governments and pharmaceutical companies to guarantee that vaccines, tests and treatments would be patent-free and equitably distributed to all nations and people.

“The World Health Assembly agreement does not do this and so is simply not fit for purpose. It leaves too many barriers standing in the way of a coronavirus vaccine for all.

“A People’s Vaccine must be patent-free, mass produced, distributed fairly, and made available, free of charge, to every individual, rich and poor alike. World leaders must commit to putting public health before the profits of the pharmaceutical industry.

“Health Ministers have resisted attempts by the Trump Administration to torpedo an agreement and have kick started a process that should help increase global manufacturing and distribution capacity. Yet they have done nothing to compel the pharmaceutical industry to pool patents so that any nation with the means can quickly manufacture or import affordable vaccines, treatments and tests.

“This World Health Assembly must not be the final word on this issue. Momentum is gathering for a ‘People’s Vaccine.’ Politicians everywhere, including the Australian Government, must step up and provide a cast-iron guarantee that they will put public health before the profits of the pharmaceutical industry.

“Earlier this month, Oxfam welcomed the Australia Government’s pledge of $352 million to support testing, treatment and vaccine development during an EU-hosted virtual summit and the Prime Minister’s call for a safe vaccine that is available and affordable to all. We’re calling on the Government to back this up by working with other nations to secure agreement for a ‘People’s Vaccine’.

“Vaccines, tests and treatments should be distributed according to need, not auctioned off to the highest bidder. We need safe, patent-free vaccines, treatments and tests that can be mass produced worldwide, and a clear and fair plan for how they will be distributed.”

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