COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver will not speed up global vaccination say AusBiotech and Medicines


AusBiotech and Medicines Australia have released a joint statement urging the Australian Government to not support a proposed patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, as it will not help global vaccination.

The proposed patent waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO), also known as the TRIPS waiver (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights waiver), is a form of forced technology transfer or compulsory acquisition of intellectual property that would undermine the global vaccination effort rather than strengthen it.  

The comments made by Trade Minister Dan Tehan last week were part of a continuing discussion held on that day and do not appear to indicate a change in the Government’s position.

Medicines Australia and AusBiotech acknowledge the Australian Government’s determination to play a constructive role in the resolution of this issue, including their recognition that the multilateral intellectual property system critically supports innovation and that patents are not the barrier to vaccine availability.

Lorraine Chiroiu, CEO of AusBiotech, and Elizabeth de Somer, CEO of Medicines Australia, have both consistently stated the importance of upholding strong intellectual property protections as the key to innovative vaccines and treatments against COVID-19 and future pandemics. In a joint statement, they both said:

“If a compulsory acquisition of patents are put into place, there will be serious, long-term impacts, which will dampen the drive for investment into medical research and innovation, placing us in a worse position to tackle new COVID-19 variants and preparation for future health crises.”

“The only way to solve this is through continuing to build robust partnerships backed by a reliable international intellectual property system. Rather than causing more bottlenecks and delays by supporting the TRIPS waiver, we hope that the Australian Government will engage in a pragmatic and constructive dialogue with industry focused on the real barriers to global vaccination.”

Read the entire joint statement here.

Co-hosting a BiotechTalk in August, to engage members on Australia’s international engagement on global IP negotiations, AusBiotech and Medicines Australia were joined by representatives from IP Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and AusBiotech’s IP Advisory Group. The shifting global IP landscape was explored, misreported ‘facts’ were debunked, and the impact that current negotiations may have on future technology development were considered. AusBiotech Members can rewatch the webcast in AusBiotech’s online BiotechTalks Library.