FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Joyce-Zoe Farley, Ph.D.
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)
Students and Activists Urge Arizona State University’s President Crow to Sign Open COVID Pledge for a People’s Vaccine
WASHINGTON, DC–December 10, 2020 — “…Big Pharma is waiting for a public discovery, so they can make big money off the COVID recovery…If Big Pharma’s vaccine costs a whole lot, the haves will have it; the have-nots will not.” Members of the Free The Vaccine for COVID-19 campaign released a sneak preview of a Dr. Seuss children’s inspired book to draw attention to the coronavirus vaccinations and its related health justice issues.
In the past several weeks, Moderna and Pfizer both announced that their respective vaccines are over 90 percent effective in preventing exposure to COVID-19. They are awaiting FDA emergency authorization to begin inoculating Americans. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! With a Free Vaccine! is sending a message to COVID-19 vaccine response key players: no one should have to pay for it a second time when the vaccine hits the market. This message also extends to universities where the vast majority of research on inoculation is being developed. To date, taxpayers have contributed nearly $10 billion dollars to vaccine development per the HHS website.
“What many people don’t realize is that they’ve already paid for the COVID-19 vaccine. Much of the research that big pharmaceutical companies claim as the reason for charging such high prices is actually publicly funded,” said Brittany Herrick, MPH, member of Free the Vaccine and Public Health Advocate with the Health Global Access Project (Health GAP).
Members of the campaign are specifically targeting Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, Ariz., as the university has announced they are committed to conducting critical research on COVID-19 testing and vaccines. The decisions made by the university will contribute to coronavirus treatment, discoveries, and impact the distribution of treatments in the ASU and greater Tempe/Phoenix communities.
Activists and students from Free the Vaccine are urging ASU President, Dr. Michael Crow, to sign the Open COVID Pledge, obligating the university to freely share intellectual property that the university holds or develops that could help end the COVID-19 pandemic and minimize any further devastation due to the illness. “By signing the Open COVID Pledge, Dr. Michael Crow has the opportunity to show the world that Arizona State University is committed to being at the forefront of the movement to end the COVID-19 pandemic and willing to make history as the first university to make this pledge,” said Shreya Kosuru, honors student at Arizona State University and member of Free the Vaccine.
The project Oh, the Places You’ll Go…With a Free Vaccine, is an homage to Dr. Seuss’ classic Oh, the Places You’ll Go!. The childhood favorite is enjoyed by children around the world and it’s the message now is to advance humanity, compassion, and make ASU’s intellectual property open to all to aid in eradicating the coronavirus. “Like so many people, we were inspired by the story of Dr. Jonas Salk. He discovered the polio vaccine and refused to patent it, making it possible to eliminate the threat of Polio in all but a few remaining countries,” said Zeph Fishlyn, member of Free The Vaccine. Salk is a pioneer and revered scientist who is best admired and known for putting public health and humanity above and beyond the need to make millions during the Polio epidemic.
The sneak preview of ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go…With a Free Vaccine’ can be found in the exhibit on YouTube. The entire project is expected to be released on Free the Vaccine website before the end of the year.
Free The Vaccine for COVID-19 is a global campaign launched by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) and the Center for Artistic Activism (C4AA), working to ensure that tax-payer funded coronavirus vaccines are sustainably priced, available to all, and free at the point of delivery. Launched in March 2020, it’s in its second round of university student-led activism supported by medical professionals and allies with over 300 participants from 30 countries. To learn more, go to freethevaccine.org
The Open COVID Pledge calls on research universities, institutions, and pharmaceutical companies to make their vaccine(s), treatment(s), therapeutic(s), and computer software freely available in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pledge is a coalition of researchers, scientists, academics, and lawyers working to accelerate the rapid development and deployment of necessary aid and equipment to control the transmission of the coronavirus. The project is now led by Creative Commons. https://opencovidpledge.org