Webinar: Health Before Wealth | Don't let trade rules stop access to COVID-19 vaccines

25 Jan 2021 Geneva, Switzerland 25 Jan - 25 Jan

Webinar: Health Before Wealth | Don't let trade rules stop access to COVID-19 vaccines

  • 25 Jan - 25 Jan
  • Geneva, Switzerland

Union action on the TRIPS Waiver Webinar

Monday, 25 January | 3 pm to 4.30pm GMT/ UTC | 4pm to 5.30pm CET

(Register for the webinar here)


Public funding has paved the way for scientific developments to help beat the virus – but now corporate copyrights and trade rules are threatening access to these vital vaccines, medicines, and equipment and putting millions of lives at risk.

That's why many Governments – supported by unions and civil society – are calling for the WTO to waive copyright provisions (TRIPS) for vaccines, key medicines and supplies: because private profits must not be put ahead of public health.

Register for our webinar to learn more about the campaign to stop trade rules from undermining the health response and how your union can make a difference.

A briefing is available for the webinar and as a resource for unions who want to take action. In the last session of the webinar we will discuss future union action and it will be an opportunity for participants to tell us what extra support they would find useful.



  • Context and Update on Negotiations

    Public Services International

  • Claims and Counterarguments

    Sangeeta Shashikant, Third World Network

    Yuanqiong Hu, Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign

  • The Way Forward - Moderated discussion

Languages: English, French and passive German


The pandemic has demanded extraordinary sacrifices from workers around the world. The Covid recovery will require everyone to have access to an affordable vaccine, medicines, diagnostics and other medical products. Yet the monopoly powers given to pharmaceutical companies by the World Trade Organisation's Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement allow companies to make extravagant profits and delay scaling up of production. Trade unions can play a key role in changing this situation.

India, South Africa and others have made a formal proposal to the World Trade Organisation for a “Waiver from Certain Provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of COVID-19”.The World Health Organization, UN Human Rights Experts, UNITAID and UNAIDS have supported the waiver.

The waiver will ensure that the monopoly rights of big pharma cannot be used to drive up the prices governments will pay for essential treatments, consuming already stretched public finances and denying the best and widest possible coverage for all. With this waiver, pharmaceutical companies will not be able to prevent other manufacturers from producing COVID19 vaccines and medicines needed to facilitate the urgent scaling up of production.

PSI supports the TRIPS Waiver and is calling on its affiliates to let national governments know that health-workers and other public services' workers expect them to support the waiver.

PSI and EPSU are organising a briefing by experts in intellectual property and access to medicines for a discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of the waiver proposal and possibilities for union action.

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