Health activists, academics, and civil society from the global north call on our governments to join the world in supporting the TRIPS waiver proposal to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the globe.

« The intellectual property (IP) waiver proposal aims to allow countries to choose not to enforce, apply or implement patents and other exclusivities that could impede the production and supply of COVID-19 medical tools, until global herd immunity is reached. If adopted, the waiver would send a crucial signal to potential manufacturers that they can start producing needed COVID-19 medical tools without fear of being blocked by patents or other monopolies. » –Doctors Without Borders

It makes little sense that the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Norway, Australia, are blocking the proposal at the World Trade Organization that would allow them, and the rest of the world, to get more of the vaccines and treatments we all need. Access to the COVID-19 medical products is critical to control the pandemic because nobody is safe until everybody is safe.
T Sundaraman
Global Coordinator, People’s Health Movement
“Developed countries, by blocking the adoption of the waiver proposal at the WTO, are failing in their human rights obligations.”
Chee Yoke Ling
Third World Network

March 11 will mark one year since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 a pandemic, with global impact and requiring global response. However, notwithstanding rhetoric around a shared experience and the need for collective mobilization, we barely see the global solidarity and commitment necessary to address this pandemic. With regard to COVID-19 treatments and health technologies, including vaccines, wealthy countries have taken nationalistic approaches, securing priority access and hoarding vaccines for their own populations at the expense of the health of everyone.

Only global solidarity can meet the current challenge–putting human rights and people’s health and lives at the center of the response. We call on our governments to join with South Africa, India and over 100 other countries in supporting the TRIPS waiver proposal currently before the WTO. The proposal calls for the temporary suspension of the patent system for Covid-19 products until worldwide immunity is achieved. This proposal would give all countries in the world the ability to decide whether to ignore some of the provisions of intellectual property law set out in the TRIPS Agreement, to save lives without fear of sanctions. Importantly, it would allow for the necessary expansion and diversification in vaccine supply, allowing manufacturers worldwide to ramp up vaccine production.  

The possibility of such a waiver–first urged by public-interest civil society groups seeking universal access to life-saving HIV-AIDS treatment and validated by the 2001 Doha Declaration–called for the suspension of WTO patent rules (the TRIPS agreement) in the face of public health emergencies. A pandemic–or as WHO’s International Health Regulations define it: a public health emergency of international concern–is precisely the kind of situation that demands the exercise of such a waiver.

COVID-19 vaccine development has required the investment of billions in public funds as well as the contributions of volunteers around the world–in the global north and south–who participated in clinical trials to ensure their safety and efficacy. Given this collective effort, COVID-19 vaccines should be a global public good. However, governments in high-income countries–even though they subsidized the research–have prioritized the financial interests of pharmaceutical companies, protecting their intellectual property (IP) and profits over the health and lives of the population. 

The voluntary charity and donation schemes in place, such as C-TAP and COVAX, which many of our governments have contributed to, are insufficient to ensure the rates of vaccination needed to save lives and slow the spread of the pandemic. Indeed, 9 out of 10 people in low-income countries will have to wait until 2022 or later to be vaccinated while rich countries have secured enough vaccines to vaccinate their populations three times over. Some countries, such as Canada, have not only bought or pre-ordered enough vaccines to vaccinate the population five times over through private deals, but are taking COVAX stocks BEFORE low-income countries get access to them. 

The opposition of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Norway, Australia, and other rich countries to this proposal will only prolong the pandemic and the multiple accompanying crises–economic, social, public health. In a moment when urgent access to all tools for preventive, testing, containment and treatment options is imperative, this opposition is untenable,self-defeating, and downright immoral.  

We demand that our governments cease blocking the proposal from South Africa and India. The time is now to stop vaccine nationalism, private profiteering,  and stand in solidarity with the world for health equity and human rights.

Take action now!

In this pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe.

We must demand that our governments support the TRIPS waiver proposal to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines everywhere.

Contact your government officials to tell them to stop blocking the proposal.

Write to the following authorities to express your position on this issue:

Hon Simon Birmingham
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment

Hon Marise Payne
Minister for Foreign Affairs

See the Public Health Association of Australia’s letter to ministers concerned and reply from Hon Simon Birmingham.

Sign this petition, initiated by PHM-Canada, to demand that your lawmakers take leadership on this issue and immediately support the TRIPS waiver proposal.

Also see these letters of support from Canadian civil society.

Sign the Right to Cure European Citizens’ Initiative.

Contact ministers of trade, ministers of health and your national-level representatives to demand that they urge the European Commission to stop blocking the waiver.

The team in South Africa asks everyone to send a message to the German Ambassador to South Africa.

Read UAEM Europe’s letter to the European Commission and European Parliament to support the TRIPS waiver proposal. 

Japanese civil society urged its government to support the TRIPS waiver in an official dialogue on 17 February.

Express your request for the government to release the protection of intellectual property rights to:

Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide
Finance Minister ASO Taro
Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry KAJIYAMA Hiroshi

See the following engagement from civil society organizations:

Collective public letters sent to government officials and their replies

A public letter to the government from Korean Federation Medical Activist Groups (KFHR) for Human Rights

The Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union (KPTU) issued a statement (English)


Sign one of these petitions to join organizations and individuals in calling on your government to support the waiver and in calls for a People’s Vaccine.

War on Want

Just Treatment

Global Justice Now

Sign this petition to urge Biden to reverse the previous administration’s deadly obstruction of global COVID-19 vaccine access.

Contact your members of Congress to demand that they support the TRIPS waiver proposal. 

See the letter from over 400 US civil society organizations urging President Biden to reverse the US’s position on the TRIPS waiver.

Learn more

People’s Health Movement country circles in Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the PHM-Europe region initiated this statement. PHM friends and partners from across the globe join in this urgent call to governments, overwhelmingly in rich countries, that are blocking equitable access to vaccines worldwide by upholding patent monopolies on COVID-19 vaccines and other medical tools.  

11.11.11, Belgium

Africa Japan Forum, Japan

Akcja Socjalistyczna, Poland

Alliance nationale des Mutualités chrétiennes, Belgium

Asian Health Institute, Japan

Association of Physician for Humanism, Republic of Korea (South) 

Association Marocaine des Droits Humains

Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network


Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research, Canada

Cancer Alliance, South Africa

Centre for Health Science and Law (CHSL), Canada

Centre for Philippine Concerns / Centre d’appui aux Philippines (CPA/CPC), Canada


Centro Internazionale Crocevia, Italy

Collectif Inter-Urgences, France

COMPASS (Community Medicine Practitioners and Advocates Association), Philippines

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), Europe

Coordination Nationale des comités de défense des hôpitaux et maternités, France

Damien Foundation, Belgium

« Equal Health and Medical Access on COVID-19 for All! » Japan Network 

esTUTsichWAS, Germany

European Federation of Public Service Unions

European Network against Commercialisation and Privatisation of Health and Social Protection


Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique – Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond, Belgium

FIAN International

Food Security Network- KHANI, Bangladesh

Forum Gauche Ecoliogie, Belgium

Foundation for Male Engagement Uganda (FOME), Uganda

Global Justice Now, United Kingdom

Global Social Justice, Belgium

Health Action International Asia Pacific

Health Poverty Action, Global

Hesperian Health Guides, United States

Humacoop-Amel France

I.C. Médicament-Santé, France

Innovative Alliance for Pubic Health, India

Intersindical Valenciana, Spain

INTERSOS Humanitarian Aid Organization, Italy/Greece

Just Doing It, South Africa

Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society, South Korea

Left Ecological Forum, Belgium

Madhira Institute, Sub-Saharan Africa

Maison médicale Saint Léonard, Belgium

Médecins Sans Frontières–Access Campaign

Médicament-Bien-Commun, France

medico international, Germany

Mohammed Zaher Sahloul, United Stated

Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA), France

Organisation for Workers’ Initiative and Democratization, Croatia

Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC), Japan

Participatory Research Action Network–PRAN, Bangladesh

People’s Health Institute (PHI), South Korea (Republic of Korea)

People’s Health Movement–Australia

People’s Health Movement–Japan

Planetary Health Weekly, Canada

Plataforma Navarra de Salud /Nafarroako Osasun Plataforma, Spain

Policies for Equitable Access to Health (PEAH), Italy

Progressive Doctors, United States/Global

Representing Uganda Social Workers, Uganda


santé, communauté, participation, Belgium

Salud por Derecho, Spain

SEE Turtles, United States

Services for the Health in Asian & African Regions (SHARE), Japan

Shoreham Working Group, Australia

Social Action for Community and Development (SACD), Cambodia

Società italiana di Medicina delle Migrazioni, Italy

Society of Development and Care, Kenya

SOLIDAR & SOLIDAR Foundation, Belgium

Solidarity for All, Greece

Triangle Project, South Africa

Un Ponte per, Italy

Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) Europe

Viva Salud, Belgium

vzw Climaxi, Belgium