We’re asking the target universities to sign the Open Covid Pledge, to stop drug companies profiteering with publicly funded research. In the UK people are used to free healthcare, and unused to thinking about the injustice of health inequalities and the malign role of drug companies. Consequently the universities feel limited pressure. This action was a show of strength from the campaign, to increase pressure on the universities, as well as a public awareness raising effort, through the street presence to a limited extent, but mostly through the social and traditional media interest we generated.
Activists in giant Covid-19 masks joined syringe wielding students in lab coats, beside neon pink dancing protestors, to call on London’s universities to pledge to make their healthcare research on Covid-19 available to the world. The Carnival March for a People’s Vaccine took place on July 27, 2020, from Kings College London (Guy’s Campus) to University College London, asking the universities to sign the Open Covid Pledge, to stop drug companies profiteering with publicly funded research.
Organize one in your community.
Make it even bigger.
The costumes! Despite a gray day in London, you couldn’t miss us in our neon pink and giant covid head costumes. There were lots of banners, and placards, and QR codes so that passers by and social media viewers could understand the action clearly.
It was a great collaboration between Free the Vaccine volunteers and volunteers from Universities Allied for Essential Medicines UK, Just Treatment, Stop AIDs, Act Up UK, and other access to healthcare activists.
A set of instructions exists on how to make this work
- An original object can be provided for exhibition
- Original files can be provided for exhibition
Reflections from Rachel Reid
What was the process/journey of creating this work?
Lots of collaborative planning meetings interspersed with lots of glue and paint, following by lots of dancing and lots of walking!
What skills or perspectives did the collaborators bring to this?
We benefited from some deep experience in the group, from the activists who thought to consult lawyers about our rights before the action, to people with wide media and communications experience, to artists.
What were some of the responses to this work?
For the giant covid head wearers it varied from Londoner indifference to laughter to lots of pictures. Generally people who approached us were sympathetic and interested.
If someone else were going to make/use/do something like this, what advice would you give them?
Have a sub-group working on communications, including traditional, not just social. There was lots still to do at the last minute (as ever!)