Frontline health workers call on Morrison Government to support a People’s Vaccine
Australian health workers and health academics have joined forces, calling on the Morrison Government to support rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the globe.
At a press conference on 20 April, representatives from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders and Public Services International called on the Morrison Government to put people before profit and take leadership with regard to the supply of COVID-19 vaccines internationally.
They are also urging fellow health workers to support their campaign by signing their joint open letter.
More than 85 developing nations will not have widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines until 2023, because intellectual property laws prevent the production of cheaper versions – a ‘catastrophic moral failure’ according to the World Health Organization.
Last October, India and South Africa took a proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily waive some intellectual property law provisions and allow production of COVID-19 vaccines to be ramped up, increasing accessibility and affordability.
Australia, so far, has opposed and delayed discussion on this critical measure. Instead, the Morrison Government has sided with big pharmaceutical corporations to apply trade rules that hold back the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
Simon Eccleshall from Medecins Sans Frontieres has criticised the Morrison Government’s position, noting a waiver as imperative to ensuring adequate international supply of “medicines and vaccines”.
“Large pharmaceutical companies are set to profit hugely from the pandemic, with patents allowing them to have the monopoly on vaccine production for two decades,” Mr Eccleshall said.
Michael Whaites, Manager of Public Health Organising at the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, echoed Mr Eccleshall’s sentiment, saying that “the pandemic has highlighted the world’s stark social and health inequalities”.
“No one is safe unless everyone is safe,” said Mr Whaites. “To overcome the pandemic, global cooperation is required”.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association is supporting the joint open letter to the Morrison Government, calling them to support greater global access to essential vaccines and medical supplies. You can sign on to this open letter here.