It has been almost two years since the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Workers have stepped up and put themselves at risk to protect lives, livelihoods and the global economy, and have made outstanding progress in science and medicine with the rapid development of Covid-19 tests, treatments, drugs, medical devices, personal protective equipment and especially vaccines.
Despite the efforts of workers, a handful of governments are sabotaging the global recovery by blocking the sharing of these medical advances, costing more lives and further endangering workers and communities. Immediate collective action is needed to ensure equal and universal access to Covid-19 vaccines and broader health products and technologies.
The international trade union movement is calling on all governments, in particular the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland, together with the European Commission, to take all measures necessary to make Covid-19 vaccines available to all, and to prevent the temporary and targeted ‘Travel waiver’ proposed by South Africa and India at the World Trade Organization (WTO), removing a major obstacle to protecting workers and communities around the world as the coronavirus continues to impact. The WTO system provides for the suspension of intellectual property rules in exceptional circumstances: the pandemic is clearly an exceptional circumstance.