24 February 2021
HESTA joins global investors in call for equitable response to COVID-19
HESTA has pledged support for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, saying uneven vaccination rates pose a risk to global health and economic activity in 2021.
The industry superannuation fund for the health and community services sector is among the first Australian super funds to sign an investor statement pushing for urgent government action.
The statement calls on G7 and G20 governments to address uneven vaccination rates globally and make funding commitments to support investment in COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and testing.
HESTA has also committed to exploring innovative investment approaches that will harness the potential for the global finance industry to support the push for greater access to vaccines.
The $60 billion industry fund will also seek - through its engagement advisers - to engage with healthcare companies to push for further action to ensure a fair and equitable global distribution of vaccines.
HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said, as the super fund for the health and community services sector, HESTA strongly supports fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines globally.
“As an investor we’re pleased to join with other global investors to support a strong global response to COVID-19 in the year ahead.
“We’ve all seen the incredible work our frontline healthcare workers in Australia and around the world have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Their individual efforts need to be supported by a strong global response to COVID to ensure that access to vaccination or treatment isn’t determined by what country you live in or how wealthy you are.”
A successful and equitable global distribution of vaccines will have an impact on the pace of economic recovery and, therefore, HESTA members’ investments, Ms Blakey said.
A study by the International Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation found the global economy stands to lose as much as US $9.2 trillion if the COVID-19 vaccines are not widely available in developing countries.
“Ensuring developing economies have equal access to COVID vaccines, medicines and tests will reduce the impact of COVID-19 worldwide, and help foster a fairer and more sustainable global recovery.”
Ms Blakey said the global finance industry had an important role to play in supporting the global effort to distribute vaccines.
“We’re keen to work with other global investors to explore ways we can encourage further investment that will help fund vaccine distribution.”
HESTA has deep experience in investing in healthcare innovation through managers like Brandon Capital and its Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MCRF).
“We’ve seen what’s possible in Australia when it comes to turning promising healthcare research into life-changing reality and how effective collaboration between government, the medical research sector and investors can be.”
The Global investor statement in support of an effective, fair and equitable global response to COVID-19 has been signed by 148 institutional investors representing over USD $14 trillion in assests under management or advice. The statement has been co-ordinated by the Access to Medicine Foundation, an independent, non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands.