Australia urged to back vaccine waiver

Australia remains under pressure to back a relaxation of intellectual property rules around the production of coronavirus vaccines to help combat the Delta variant.

Human Rights Watch has urged Australia to follow the US in supporting a waiver on vaccine patents at the World Trade Organisation to ensure faster and fairer access for low-income nations.

“The global vaccine shortage is an urgent crisis. Australia’s neighbours are currently experiencing even greater hardships,” the organisation said on Monday.

It also said the federal government needed to play a leadership role and support all measures to help expand production across the world.

Human Rights Watch was concerned pharmaceutical companies may be putting pressure on Australia not to agree to the waivers.

Australia manufactures the AstraZeneca vaccine locally, but its rollout has been hampered by vaccine hesitancy and changing advice from the national immunisation advisory panel.

Pfizer, which is imported, remains the recommended vaccine for under-60s. 

At the same time, all adults in Greater Sydney are strongly recommended to consider getting any vaccine they can get their hands on.

When contacted for comment, Trade Minister Dan Tehan’s office referred to his comments last month saying Australia was prepared to look at a vaccine waiver.

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