The California Trade Justice Coalition is a growing alliance of labor, environmental, public health, immigrant rights, human rights, and socially conscious business leaders — all committed to building a strong California economy that works for all. Founded in 2016, we’re an affiliate of the national Citizens Trade Campaign, and a fiscally-sponsored project of Earth Island Institute.
We work together to
The California Trade Justice Coalition is joining our partner organization Public Citizen and other organizations like MSF (Doctors without Borders) to advocate for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. While increasing numbers of Americans are being vaccinated against COVID-19, huge numbers of people in the Global South are not expected to have access to vaccines for years longer — unless global production is increased dramatically. Preventing millions of additional deaths worldwide must start by dramatically increasing the global production of COVID vaccines, diagnostic tools, and treatments.
Although there are many barriers in supply chains and access to ingredients, intellectual property policies are increasingly becoming a barrier to access in developing countries to critical technology necessary to save lives and prevent variants. So while it is far from the only measure needed to combat these shortages, a comprehensive TRIPS waiver would remove a key barrier to increasing vaccine, test kit, and medicine production in as many places as possible as quickly as possible. This is crucial not only to save lives but to improve the global economy, to prevent millions more from being pushed into poverty, and to reduce the chances of a viral mutation that could evade current vaccines and start the pandemic all over for everyone.
Thankfully, the Biden Administration has joined over 100 other countries to pledge to support a TRIPS waiver. As U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said when putting the United States on the right side of history on this issue, the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The interests of pharmaceutical monopolies must not be allowed to take priority over ending COVID’s ongoing health and economic devastation as speedily as possible.
However, the European Union, led by Germany, is fighting back hard against the waiver. They continue to defend pharmaceutical companies’ rights and the status quo over the human lives affected by this pandemic, by proposing weak alternatives which do little to change existing laws. In response, we held vigils at and delivered letters signed by supporting organizations representing thousands of people to the German Consul-General office in San Francisco and to the offices of other countries which were opposed to the waiver at the time.
We will continue to apply pressure on these countries until this important waiver is passed.