C20 – Position Statement of the Working Group on Vaccine Access and Global Health Responding to the TRIPS Waiver Discussion at WTO Ministerial Conference 12th
Jakarta, 29 November 2021. Civil society groups which are members of Indonesia’s Civil-20 (C20) kindly ask President Jokowi to be able to commend G20 Member States, especially the European Union, the UK, Canada, and Japan, to immediately agree on the TRIPS Waiver and ask them not to hinder the achievement of the TRIPS Waiver agreement at the WTO to achieve equitable access to vaccines, medicines and medical equipment related to COVID-19.
The 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (WTO MC12th), which was scheduled to be held from 30 November to 3 December 2021 in Geneva, has been announced to be postponed due to a new virus mutation that is currently spreading in several countries. The Civil Society Groups welcomed this postponement as several restrictive policies that Switzerland as host would have impacted the opportunities for developing countries to participate actively and effectively in the MC 12th. The delay will also allow an opportunity to agree on the TRIPS Waiver more freely in the General Council process without going through the Ministerial Conference.
Civil Society groups continue to urge the TRIPS Waiver to be immediately agreed upon by all WTO members. However, to this very day, the leaders of wealthy countries, especially those who are members of the G20, are still not willing to make a binding commitment to the TRIPS Waiver to ensure equitable access and distribution of vaccines, medicines, and medical equipment related to COVID-19 for low-developing countries. Therefore, global recovery from the pandemic can inclusively be achieved. In fact, in the midst of the threat of virus mutation that continues to occur, it is important for the world to accelerate vaccination and provide fast and equitable treatment.
Until now, the UK, the European Union, Switzerland, and Norway are still hampering the achievement of the TRIPS waiver proposal agreement (TRIPS Waiver) discussed in the WTO. Wealthy countries deliberately maintain and support large pharmaceutical companies to monopolize the knowledge, production, and prices of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines through intellectual property protection regulations. Recently, Ambassador Walker from New Zealand unilaterally also submitted a text proposal that was not designed for a pandemic and closer to the demands of liberalization and even specifically excluded discussions on the topic of the TRIPS Waiver. This “Walker Process” effort is similar to previous efforts, such as the European Union Proposal, which can hinder the progress of the TRIPS Waiver discussion.
The Rome Declaration accentuates the importance of COVID-19 immunization as a global public good. It ensures timely, equitable, and universal access to safe, affordable, quality, and effective vaccines, therapies, and diagnostics, with particular attention to the needs of low and middle-income countries. However, after this declaration, there is no seriousness from the G20 member countries, especially the EU and the UK, to implement their commitments.
With the transition of the G20 Presidency in 2020 under the leadership of Indonesia, President Jokowi should employ this as a momentum to ensure the realization of solid global solidarity by encouraging the implementation of the commitments of G20 member countries to make COVID-19 vaccines and medicines as public goods. And that can only be achieved by agreeing on the TRIPS Waiver. Thus, there is no longer a knowledge monopoly that can provide large pharmaceutical companies firm control over production, pricing, and distribution. For this reason, all G20 member countries must be seriously responsible for overcoming inequality in global health access in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by the G20 member countries themselves.
The severity of inequality in access to health in overcoming the pandemic has closed the opportunity for economic recovery needed by low-income countries in the world. Vaccination rates in developing countries such as Indonesia are still below 50%, while African countries are even below 5%, such as Nigeria at 2.7% and Tanzania at 1.4%. At the same time, several developed countries in Europe have reached a figure above 80%. The International Chamber of Commerce predicts that the world will face losses of up to USD 9.2 trillion should it fail to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines for developing and low developing countries. During the COVID-19 pandemic, developing countries struggled to procure necessities related to handling COVID-19 with limited funding. It has also disrupted the health system and alleviated several other serious health problems such as HIV, TB, and Malaria.
The TRIPS Waiver is critical to ensure access to vaccines, medicines, and medical equipment needed related to COVID-19. By agreeing on the TRIPS Waiver, it will open up the maximization of available manufacturing capacity in various countries worldwide, ensure affordable prices, and support technology transfer to developing countries. The TRIPS Waiver proposal submitted by India and South Africa has been endorsed by most WTO members, including Indonesia, international organizations such as WHO, UNAIDS, and UNCTAD, to academics and civil society organizations worldwide.
Civil20 through Vaccines Access and Global Health Working Group commends developed countries, especially the G20 countries, to immediately support the TRIPS Waiver and stop all efforts that hinder the proposal discussion’s progress. World leaders’ commitment to global recovery that continues to be echoed will be in vain if access to vaccines is not immediately realized. The world continues to compete with virus mutations that will continue to occur if there are still countries lagging behind in the COVID-19 vaccination.
C20 – Vaccine Access and Global Health Working Group :
Indonesia for Global Justice – Agung Prakoso – firstname.lastname@example.org
Oxfam Indonesia – Tatat – email@example.com
Yayasan Spirita – Daniel Marguari – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Prakarsa – Eka Afrina – email@example.com
AIDS Healthcare Foundation – Asep Eka Nur Hidayat – firstname.lastname@example.org
Human Initiative – Kaimuddin – email@example.com
Indonesia AIDS Coalition – Ferry Norila – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jaringan Indonesia Positif – Meirinda Sebayang – email@example.com
Yappika Actionaid – Indira Hapsari – firstname.lastname@example.org
Yayasan Kristen untuk Kesehatan Umum – Arshinta – email@example.com
Yayasan Penabulu – Dini – Dini.firstname.lastname@example.org