Vax the world

Since the start of the pandemic, the global biopharmaceutical industry has worked continuously to find solutions to the COVID-19 virus. This tremendous collaboration has been enabled – not undermined – by the international intellectual property (IP) system. As a result, more than 6.5 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered around the world, and 26.88 million are administered every day[1], saving countless lives and reviving economies.

By January 2022, there will be sufficient vaccines produced for every adult on every continent. Achieving global vaccination will allow more movement of people and goods to and from Australia. It will be critical to our economic and health recovery. So, if there’s a high volume of doses being manufactured every day, why is it that only 5%[2] of people in vulnerable, low-income countries have received at least one dose?

There are several issues that need to be addressed by governments if we are ever going to achieve a vaccinated world. To advance vaccine equity, we need to urgently…

  1. Eliminate trade barriers
  2. Optimise vaccine production
  3. Support countries’ readiness to vaccinate their populations
  4. Drive further innovation
  5. Share more doses with developing countries

Australian Government commitments

  • $130 million to COVAX
  • 40 million doses to the Pacific region, Indonesia and Vietnam
  • 20 million additional doses to be procured and shared by the end of 2022
  • $523 million and vaccines for 15 million people in the Indo-Pacific region
  • $100 million contribution to the QUAD to boost production in Southeast Asia

Australia has demonstrated its values of mateship and fairness with donations and contributions that will help vaccinate the world. More is to be done if we are to overcome the barriers of achieving a global vaccination against COVID-19.

While Australia has made a financial donation to the COVAX program, it has made no vaccine sharing commitments. Australia is well positioned to step up additional funding to COVAX as well as making a commitment to share vaccine doses.

Medicines Australia encourages the Australian Government to urgently step up its commitments, particularly in financial support to the COVAX program and to introduce a commitment to share doses with COVAX.

Pharmaceutical commitments

Suppliers of COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna and J&J/Janssen, have provided millions of vaccine doses to low-income countries, as a donation or at cost.

What is the TRIPS waiver?

There have been intensified global calls in recent months for a temporary intellectual property (IP) waiver of COVID-19 vaccines under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) – commonly referred to as the ‘TRIPS waiver’. The proposal, originally submitted by India and South Africa, gathered momentum in May after United States announced its support for the waiver. Several major countries (and WTO members), including European Union (EU), United Kingdom, Canada and Japan, continue to oppose the proposal. Most recently, the Australian Government, despite its stated understanding that patents are not a barrier to vaccine availability, said it was “open to any agreed solution” on the proposal.

However, IP is not a barrier to vaccine access. If anything, noise around a waiver is a distraction from the key issues. We must reduce the toll of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods, which will require global equitable access to vaccines and country readiness for vaccination.

Why a TRIPS waiver is not the answer

Waiving IP will not deliver the sufficient know-how, ingredients, workforce, and infrastructure to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines, nor will it address the trade restrictions, regulatory inadequacies, or healthcare system deficiencies that are currently posing real barriers to vaccine equity. Instead, the waiver will undermine current efforts to scale up the manufacture of safe vaccines by creating a greater demand for already scarce ingredients in the supply chain.

The TRIPS waiver could disrupt the global supply chains of the raw materials which are crucial to develop the quantities required by the world. For example, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine contains 280 different ingredients sourced from 86 suppliers in 19 different countries. The speed of manufacturing vaccine doses is not being limited by the number of manufacturing plants but by the lack of ‘ingredients’ for the vaccines and export restrictions of the finished vaccine doses.

What Australia needs to do to vaccinate the world

There are several issues which need to be addressed by governments if we are going to achieve a vaccinated world. To advance vaccine equity, we need to urgently:

  • Eliminate trade barriers
  • Optimise vaccine production
  • Support other countries get ready to roll out their vaccine programs
  • Drive further innovation
  • Share more doses with developing countries

By January 2022, there will be sufficient vaccines produced for every adult on every continent. In wealthy countries that have high vaccination rates, booster doses and lower risk groups such as children are being vaccinated. While it is understandable to want to vaccinate these groups, there would be longer-term benefits and safety in donating these vaccinations to other countries.

The TRIPS waiver is an empty promise that governments have used as a distraction from tackling the real issues to save lives. Our biopharmaceutical sector has moved mountains to rapidly develop safe and effective vaccines thanks to its scientific expertise and a strong framework for the protection of IP. The emergence of deadlier variants, such as Delta, has demonstrated we are not out of the woods yet.

[1] as at 22 November 2021

[2] as at 22 November 2021

Navigating COVID-19 and beyond

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicines Australia partnered with key leaders in fundraising and financial management to bring the ‘Navigating COVID & Beyond’ program. Designed for healthcare organisations and patient advocacy groups, the series of tailored, interactive webcasts and workshops provided tools to navigate this challenging time, steering their organisations through COVID-19 and on to the ‘new normal’ of recovery.

Introduction webinar  ‘Managing in a crisis’

Topics covered in this first webinar include:

  • Health sector implications – including likely consequences and risks for the community
  • Fundraising in a COVID-19 environment
  • Financial management and cash flow forecasting
  • Transitioning staff back into the workplace and wellbeing issues

View this webcast  here and a copy of the presentation slides is available to download here.

Learn how to fundraise in a digital environment

Medicines Australia partnered with Hancock Creative, leaders in digital fundraising, to provide health care organisations and patient advocacy groups an online social media strategy development program that includes live, interactive workshops as well as webinars and mentoring.

This online social media strategy program includes:

  • Access to Handcock Creative Social Media Strategy online learning portal
  • Storytelling for Social Media workshop
  • Fundraising Trends and Facebook Fundraising webinar
  • Fundraising Strategies webinar
  • Group Mentoring
  • Interactive assistance and support sessions
  • Private Facebook Group for networking and assistance
  • Tools, Templates, Resources and more…

More information on this Social Media Fundraising program can be found here.

Other Resources

Learn how to significantly increase cash

A PwC webcast on how to significantly increase cash by simply reallocating resources and effort into more impactful cash generation initiatives.  This webcast has been tailored for you and will help identify which initiatives are impactful and which ones are not!

Maximising Cash Generation webcast will discuss ways you can maximise cash generation for your NFP organisation including:

  • Changing financial reporting to promote good financial decisions
  • Segmenting cash generation initiatives into “winners” and “losers” and reallocating resources accordingly
  • Driving cash generation culture change
  • Insourcing and outsourcing – how to determine best approach

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