Californians Remember Loved Ones Lost to COVID-19 & Urge Quick Australian Action to Prevent More from Dying
San Francisco, CA — Californians gathered at the Australian consulate in San Francisco today for a vigil remembering those who have died from COVID-19 and calling on the Australian government to support policies needed to increase global access to vaccines and treatments. The San Francisco vigil comes just days before a major international meeting where governments will discuss waiving intellectual property rights to enable more COVID vaccine, diagnostic and treatment production. The Australian government is one of the last holdouts against that waiver.
“Ending a global pandemic requires global solutions. While Californians increasingly have widespread access to COVID vaccination, huge numbers of people around the world aren’t expected to have access to a vaccine for years unless global production is dramatically increased,” said Will Jamil Wiltschko of the California Trade Justice Coalition. “We’re calling on the Australian government to stand with the more than one hundred countries around the world in supporting the intellectual property waiver that’s needed for COVID vaccines and treatments to be produced in as many places as possible as quickly as possible.”
Vigil attendees read the names of loved ones lost to COVID-19, lit candles and held a moment of silence. Organizers also delivered a letter calling on Australia to support the emergency waiver of “Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights” (TRIPS) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that was first introduced by India and South Africa and would enable COVID vaccines and treatments to be produced in more locations. The waiver proposal will be discussed at the WTO’s TRIPS Council meeting on June 8 and 9.
“Over 12,000 people are dying every day from COVID-19. That number would be far lower if vaccines, diagnostics and treatments were more widespread,” said Ted Lewis, Co-Executive Director of Global Exchange. “Every day of delay on the TRIPS waiver means more needless death, more families pushed into poverty and greater chances of a viral mutation that can evade current vaccines and start the pandemic all over again for everyone.”
The United States, Russia and China recently announced their support for a TRIPS waiver for COVID vaccines, joining over 100 other nations who had earlier backed the concept. Australia is increasingly isolated in its opposition.