Open letter: Canada must ensure fair global access to Covid-19 vaccines

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We write on behalf of Amnesty International regarding Canada’s human rights obligations vis-à-vis the urgent need to ensure fair global access to vaccines. We are particularly concerned that Canada’s neutral position on a temporary waiver to the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and its failure to reform the Canadian Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) so manufacturers can expand the global supply of Covid-19 vaccines, constitute a failure to fulfil its international human rights obligations.

Canada’s commitment to contribute $1.3 million to the World Health Organization’s Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and to its COVAX Facility, dedicated to increasing global access to Covid-19 vaccines especially to lower and middle-income countries, is a welcome step. However, financial support alone cannot protect the right to health of millions around the world. Since its first delivery in February 2021, COVAX is already unable to deliver according to schedule in many countries and; in fact, on June 26, COVAX announced that it had no doses of AstraZeneca, Serum Institute of India, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in stock. This severe global shortage is occurring while thousands of vaccine doses are expiring in Canada.