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Indian Groups Demand NZ Supports WTO Vaccine Waiver

A group of 36 Indian health organisations and 50 respected individuals has sent a letter to the NZ Ambassador to India, calling on the NZ Government to support the proposed waiver of World Trade Organisation (WTO) intellectual property rules to expand access to Covid-19 vaccines.

The appeal, which has been forwarded to the Prime Minister, is penned by The Delhi Network of Positive People, a group advocating for the rights of people with HIV/AIDS, and highlights how WTO patent monopolies preventing competition and local manufacturing contributed to a ten year delay in access to life saving HIV medicines for people in developing countries, leading to millions of unnecessary deaths.

"It is now clear that the longer the virus circulates in unprotected populations, the more likely it is that mutations will occur. These mutations can - including countries opposing the waiver proposal - and prolong the pandemic. In the face of such a crisis, the New Zealand silence is untenable and self-defeating", the letter states.

This follows another open letter sent by 42 New Zealand organisations and individuals also calling on the Prime Minister to support a "people’s vaccine" by supporting the waiver.

"Prime Minister Ardern has called for 2021 to be the year of the vaccine, but only one in 10 people in low-income developing countries will be able to access a vaccine this year", said It’s Our Future spokesperson Edward Miller.

"Supporting the WTO waiver will allow vaccine manufacturers in developing countries - already responsible for producing billions doses of various other vaccines - to contribute to the global effort to stop the Covid health and economic crises."

"The World Health Organisation has warned that vaccine inequality could cost the global economy US $9.2 trillion; much of that is income stolen from the pockets of the poorest communities on the planet"."

"Tomorrow at the TRIPS Council meeting, New Zealand has an opportunity to get off the fence and support the kind of universal vaccine access that Prime Minister Ardern has been advocating."

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