The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
All of humanity is waiting for an effective and safe vaccine against COVID-19 to put an end to this painful pandemic that has taken 2.5 million lives and threatens decades of progress to end poverty and advance gender equality. Our best chance of all staying safe – and getting back on track to building a more just and sustainable future – is to ensure a COVID-19 vaccine is available for all as a global common good.
Canada has shown leadership globally having invested close to $1B in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, which includes a critical mechanism to enable 92 low and middle income countries to access vaccines. However, considering the extent of the crisis and the need to rapidly scale up vaccine manufacturing, the COVAX mechanism alone is insufficient and too slow. Nine out of ten people in poor countries are set to miss out on a vaccine this year and, by current trends, it will take until 2024 for all people in developing countries to receive vaccines.
We encourage Canada to take its leadership a step further and support the Waiver from Certain Provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of COVID-19 being negotiated at the World Trade Organization now and supported by over 100 nations. As long as vaccine manufacturing is concentrated in the hands of a few pharmaceutical corporations, millions of people will lose out on getting the protection they desperately need. A waiver is entirely within the rules-based global order and in line with the WTO members’ agreement that intellectual property rules cannot create barriers that cost human lives and cripple the global economy.
Canada’s leadership is going to be critical to ensuring more vaccines reach the most vulnerable in developing countries. We see the Canadian government as a key ally in expanding fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for the most marginalized, and hope to see Canada support the waiver on TRIPS during the council meetings on March 10-11.
Executive Director, Oxfam Canada
Directrice générale, Oxfam-Québec
The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development
Oxfam is a member of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a growing movement of health and humanitarian organizations, past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders and economists calling on safe and effective vaccines to be produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people in all countries, free of charge.