COSATU welcomes progress on Covid-19 Vaccine Trips Waiver

COSATU welcomes progress on Covid-19 vaccine Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) waiver.  The Federation welcomes the announcement by the United States’ government that they support a TRIPS waiver on the manufacture of Covid 19 Vaccines.

Pharmaceutical companies have made huge profits in the manufacture of vaccines. With millions having died and more at risk, continuing to profiteer from a global pandemic is greedy and unacceptable.

The TRIPS waiver called for by South Africa and now supported by the US, clearly puts the world on two sides of important public health issues. On the correct side are South Africa and those who support a humanitarian approach to confront the virus, born out of international solidarity, and mindful of the different levels of development in the world.  

COSATU calls for an urgent resolution of the TRIPS waiver provisions.  Vaccine production and distribution must be science based as articulated by the World Health Organisation.  The disregard shown by the certain developing countries will turn the health crisis into a humanitarian crisis and entrench global divisions, as countries are ravaged by Covid-19 are denied the vaccines they need.

On the other side are those who want to profiteer from Covid-19.  This approach undermines global efforts in respect of the pandemic.  

South Africa and COSATU support the waiver and the position articulated by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, namely that:

·         “The world needs to scale up production of the vaccine.

·         Urgently facilitate the transfer of technology and knowledge.

·         Secure raw materials and production and distribution rights.

·         A targeted waiver is needed to unlock the goods and services to enable production of COVID related vaccines and therapeutics.

·         That transparency of contracts and undertaking s of price stability must be secured.

·         Destructive vaccine nationalism must be avoided.

·         Provisions must be developed which allow for future waivers in order to future-proof us against other similar emergencies that will arise.”   

The Federation believes that the only way to confront this global pandemic is through united global action.   The world needs to condemn those countries who oppose the TRIPS waiver and call on them to respect and support a more humane approach.  This must be based upon a temporary waiver of vaccines’ intellectual property rights.   

COSATU acknowledges the need for intellectual property protection and calls upon the World Trade Organisation to conduct urgent negotiations to facilitate the TRIPS waiver provision. This process must be sped up and discussions fast tracked.

Current manufacturing production levels are insufficient and need to be ramped up.  Existing manufacturers clearly cannot meet global demand.  Developing countries need to be allowed the TRIPS waiver to ensure they can commence production themselves and not be hostage to the delivery schedules of manufacturers or hoarding by developed countries.  Lives cannot continue to be sacrifice on the alter of intellectual property for the sake of the profits of the few.

For further information please contact Tony Ehrenreich at 082 773 3194.