A week ago, Linda Wan and her husband created this for a big street-art fair in Ann Arbor, Michigan. According to the Wans, the response to their sign was overwhelmingly positive. Families even came up and started applauding the sign!
No one is safe until everyone is safe. Join an action to end the pandemic everywhere!
July 14 at 10 am ET
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza E. 47th Street, NYC
Covid-19 continues to rage across the world. We have less than 10% of the vaccines we need globally to end the pandemic.
President Biden and other world leaders have only taken modest steps to address this global crisis, and it’s going to take our collective power to make Biden and global leaders act urgently to stop prolonging the pandemic.
Join the movement to end the global pandemic on July 14 at 10 am EDT at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza E. 47th Street (between 1 Ave. and 2 Ave.).
World leaders are dragging their feet and shielding pharmaceutical corporation profits, while Covid death tolls continue to climb around the world. People in the United States face the uncertainty of returning to in-person routines while the people we care about around the world continue to navigate the devastation of the pandemic.
In order to end the pandemic anywhere, we must end the pandemic everywhere.
Cosponsored by Health GAP, Center For Popular Democracy, SEIU CIR, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Religions for Peace, Metro NY Health Care For All, Right to Health Action, Justice is Global, People’s Action
“To get a better understanding of the problems with vaccine access, I spoke to Tayyiaba Farooq, who is the project manager of the Free the Vaccine Campaign, an international collective of volunteers who are making the case for making vaccines available for everyone. “The main issue in such a disparity in vaccine access is due to the fact that lower and middle-income countries (LMICs) are effectively-stocked out getting access to a supply.” she explained to me. “Since higher-income countries have bought up all of the vaccine supply, LMICs are left last in line to get access to the vaccines. This is due to the fact that many of these countries are able to afford to buy up large supplies of vaccine stock, a capability that many countries do not have. This leaves LMICs relying on alternative vaccines, and global aid through forms such as COVAX that still end up falling short of need”.
Check out the full article here.
The People’s Vaccine campaign wants pharmaceutical companies to drop their patents to help distribute jabs to the billions of people across the world who remain unvaccinated.
On the afternoon of the 5th of May, a hundred or so activists gathered for a rally in Washington, D.C. While some spoke from a stage, others dressed in Care Bear costumes held a banner – also illustrated with Care Bears – that read: “Remind Joe Biden. Sharing is caring. Share the vaccine recipe and save lives! Free the vaccine for Covid-19.”
Halfway through the rally, Maanasa Gurram, a college student and project manager for the group Free the Vaccine, noticed something. “In the midst of one of the speeches someone came over to us and said, ‘I think Biden is supporting the waiver’”, she tells VICE World News. “We couldn’t believe it. The whole atmosphere changed to one of jubilation.”
The waiver Gurram is referring to is to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, better known as TRIPS, which was signed by all member nations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1994 and which continues to play a key part in how Covid-19 vaccines are manufactured and who gets them. The agreement protects the intellectual property rights of the pharmaceutical companies making the doses, meaning they do not have to share their recipes.
This is partly why just over 2 percent of people in Africa have been vaccinated. It has also contributed to a situation in which India, where more vaccines are manufactured than anywhere else in the world, has struggled to protect its population, leading to the catastrophic surge in the new variant of the virus.
“As long as the virus spreads, it can mutate and move. Ending the pandemic is not a question of charity. It is a question of survival,” says Varsha Gandikota-Nellutla, a feminist economic justice advocate and campaigner with Progressive International, which will host a virtual summit to “speed up the production, distribution, and delivery of COVID vaccines to the world” on 18th to the 21st June. “The longer we wait, the more we are at risk: billions of lives, north and south, vaccinated and unvaccinated.”
Biden’s support for the TRIPS waiver, which could help pave the way for the mass production of free or easily affordable doses for poorer nations, surprised many campaigners, who had got used to both Republican and Democrat presidents fiercely guarding the intellectual property rights of big corporations. It also put the US at odds with its longstanding allies in the G7, particularly the UK, Canada and Germany.
Before the G7 summit in Cornwall, the US announced that it would buy 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to distribute to nearly 100 countries around the world. That was followed on the weekend by a promise from G7 leaders of “one billion COVID vaccines for poorer nations”. But as Bloomberg reported, the headline figures conceal a dispiriting reality: G7 countries have so far only promised 613 million “truly new doses” of the vaccine, with the one billion figure only reached by including pledges made starting back in February.
Moreover, donations alone will not vaccinate the world. Discussions of the waiver at the summit appear to have been limited. The Indian government is lobbying G7 leaders to back the waiver, but a source familiar with that lobbying said that so far only the United States, France and elements within Germany’s leadership – but most definitely not Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said after the US announcement that the “protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and it must remain so in the future” – were onboard. As COVID-19 continues to kill people the world over, and as the threat of new variants jumping continents looms, demands to provide equitable access to vaccines are becoming ever more urgent.
For as long as there has been a COVID-19 vaccine, there has been a campaign for a “people’s vaccine”.
“A people’s vaccine is one that isn’t controlled by big pharmaceutical companies and is therefore one that can be got out as soon as possible, free of charge,” says Nick Dearden, director of the UK-based campaign group Global Justice Now, which is part of that group of over 50 organisations across the world – including Free the Vaccine, Oxfam and Amnesty – campaigning for a people’s vaccine.
The waiving of the TRIPS agreement is key to this. If companies like Pfizer are compelled to share the recipes to their vaccines, those vaccines can be manufactured all over the world and distributed to the billions of people who remain unvaccinated, campaigners say.
Read the full article here.
Check out this video from Intercept talking about the TRIPS Waiver and vaccine divide. There is a special feature of some UAEM members including our founder Amy Kapcyznski, Maanasa Gurham, and a couple other of our UAEM members!
World, we are ready for our close-up! UAEM student advocacy is making its debut on the silver screen! For the last couple of years members of our UAEM community have been followed by a documentary team from Participant Media. The UAEM UCLA chapter lead and North American Coordinating Committee member Neda Ashtari, along with former UAEM board member Gloria Tavera are the focus of a new documentary, “White Coat Rebels.” As the stories unfold and intertwine there are cameos from many UAEMers and Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 participants as filming was happening as we saw the dramatic rise of COVID-19 cases in the USA and worldwide.
The initial film screenings will occur at the AFI DOCS Non-Fiction Festival in Silver Spring, MD, from June 22-27. The documentary examines the pharmaceutical industry from the perspective of advocacy and those who are fighting against its power and influence. While we can’t stream the film at this time, you can purchase a ticket to see it on the day of its release (on June 24th).
We are so excited for you to see this documentary and we hope you’ll purchase a ticket in support. And once you’ve seen our teams in action please consider donating to UAEM to keep our advocacy going. This year marks 20 years since our first win at Yale University!
We can’t wait to hear what you think!
The European Parliament voted in favour of starting negotiations on the TRIPS Waiver!
Yesterday, a resolution was adopted with consensus to encourage the European Commission to continue and support the talks in the World Trade Organisation on the TRIPS Waiver. This is a non-binding advice to the European Commission but we still need to keep the pressure on!
Retweet our allies to recognize this new win and increase pressure on the Commission: https://twitter.com/Right2Cure/status/1402892239974567937
European Member states gather during a European Council on 24-25 June.
Already announced, but to celebrate again: president Macron declared his support for the TRIPS Waiver, after meeting with a group of French NGO’s. Big congrats to you!
Our Tweet: https://twitter.com/Right2Cure/status/1402718368524914694?s=20
Macrons Tweet: https://twitter.com/EmmanuelMacron/status/1402727266187190291?s=19
Analyses on WTO TRIPS Council by Third World Network
The European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Korea reiterated their opposition to waiving TRIPS provisions as a response to COVID-19 and positioned themselves in strong support to the EU’s communication of 4 June – Urgent trade policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis: Intellectual Property (IP/C/W/680). This proposal calls for limiting export restrictions, supporting the expansion of production and facilitating the use of current compulsory licensing provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), particularly by waiving the requirement to negotiate with the right holder of the vaccine patent.
The European Union said to be ready to immediately start a discussion based on the proposal set out in that communication and announced its intention to follow up with a more elaborated text. At the same time, the EU is ready to continue discussing the revised waiver proposal in the course of additional meetings of the TRIPS Council, the EU delegate added. The final objective must be finding a way forward in the discussion on the role of intellectual property in enhancing access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics and proceed with concrete, short and medium term solutions to enhance universal access to COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics at affordable prices.
The EU agreed that intellectual property rights (IPRs) should not stand in the way of deploying existing capacity, or creating new capacity, or of ensuring that access to COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics is equitable, but noted that it is possible to achieve this objective while at the same time maintaining the protection required for incentivizing technology transfer and investment in innovation, so that members can fight against new strains of COVID-19 and any future diseases.
The EU proposed that as part of this discussion WTO members agree as soon as possible on the global trade initiative for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, encompassing three components: trade facilitation and disciplines on export restrictions; concrete actions to expand production and ensure supply of vaccines at affordable prices to low- and middle-income countries during the pandemic; and further clarification and facilitation of TRIPS Agreement flexibilities, relating to compulsory licenses.
Billions of impoverished people are waiting in line for COVID-19 vaccines, while the virus spreads largely unchecked and mutating rapidly. There is no end in sight anywhere, until everyone, everywhere has access to a safe, free vaccine. Please help us call on Joe Biden to launch a plan to get the vaccines our tax money paid to invent to everyone, everywhere. Want to know more? Check out the longer expert letter here.
June 2, 2021
During my nearly two decades in public health, I have never seen a moment richer with opportunity to fundamentally rebuild our global health system. The recent stunning announcement that the Biden administration would waive intellectual-property rights for the Covid-19 vaccine marked a sea change in the fight for a more equitable and just approach to global health.
It also marked a once-in-a-generation opportunity for philanthropy to be part of reshaping the global health system into one that recognizes that none of us are safe and healthy until all of us are safe and healthy.
The need for such a shift couldn’t be clearer. As Americans get vaccinated and the country starts to reopen, much of the world is experiencing one of the most devastating surges yet of the pandemic. Just in the past week, 41,000 people died in India and Brazil alone. For me, this is personal. I’ve already lost multiple family members in India to Covid-19, and more of my loved ones in India are battling the virus right now.
Vaccines and other lifesaving medical products are not reaching the vast majority of people on the planet. This is the utterly predictable consequence of a monopolistic research and development system, in which companies use the intellectual-property system to control the market, leaving the power to shape the pandemic response in the hands of a few private players.
Ensuring equitable access to the vaccine should have been integrated into every step of the process from the beginning. Imagine how many lives might have been saved if government and philanthropic investments in vaccine development had been matched by investments aimed at ensuring vaccines were accessible in every corner of the world.
Rather than continuing to support an elitist global health system built on a legacy of structural racism, philanthropy needs to focus its attention and investments on movements worldwide that will ensure the Biden administration’s intellectual property waiver quickly translates into more vaccine availability, while creating structural changes that save lives now and during future pandemics.
The organization I co-founded, the Initiative for Medicines, Access, & Knowledge, has fought for years for global equity in medicine access. We know that creating a global health system that works for everyone must rectify the power imbalance between those influencing the policy decisions and those who are most affected by them.
Our movement has the expertise, the leaders, and the plan. What we are missing is the fuel.
To transform our global health system, we need philanthropy to invest in advocacy, education, and movement building in a much bigger way than it has to date. For grant makers engaged in the much-needed conversation about decolonizing philanthropy, I challenge you to put your money where your mouth is.
Invest in diverse leaders.
The current system is literally killing the nonprivileged, who are overwhelmingly people of color. In the United States, Indigenous and Black Americans have faced the highest death tolls from Covid-19. The same is true across the globe, where predominantly nonwhite populations are suffering most. For too long, we’ve allowed philanthropists such as Bill Gates to shape the response to global health care with the same monopolistic model that built his corporate profits. That approach is failing us and must be rejected if we are ever to achieve true equity in global health.
Instead of leaving decisions about health and equity to wealthy business leaders, foundations should diversify their funding approach to include those with direct experience in the most affected communities. They can start by providing multiyear, general operating support to organizations working to replace the current monopolistic system with one focused on providing worldwide access to medicines and vaccines.
This includes groups such as the student-driven Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, which successfully advocated for more than 30 medical research institutions to change their patent and licensing policies, resulting in increased global access to medicines. Through its Covid-19 #freethevaccine campaign, the organization is developing a pipeline of young Black and brown public-health leaders fighting for equitable vaccine access. Alumni of the organization include renowned activist Ady Barkan and many others who have gone on to become leaders in public health.
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines is part of a larger movement that is maintaining pressure on the Biden administration and other country governments to quickly agree upon the terms of the World Health Organization’s intellectual-property waiver for Covid-19 medical products and to expedite sharing of critical knowledge and resources to increase vaccine supply and availability. The movement is also pushing for policies that would fundamentally change the rules of the game — for example, ensuring that federally supported research and development, such as the $2.5 billion in taxpayer dollars that bankrolled the Moderna vaccine, are shared as a rule, not an exception.
Give up a nationalistic approach to solving global problems.
Creating systemic change will not happen if American philanthropy, which holds the overwhelming bulk of charitable assets globally, dictates a top-down, America-first vision for public health to the rest of the world — or barely engages in international grant making at all.
Covid-19 showed us how artificial our borders really are, especially when it comes to the spread of a deadly virus. Yet American-based organizations have received a staggering 56 percent of the nearly $24 billion in global philanthropic grants to date, even though the United Statesaccounts for just 19 percent of Covid-19 cases and 17 percent of deaths. This is both inequitable and shortsighted. Much of the world won’t have access to vaccines until 2023. In the meantime, variants will continue to emerge and make their way to America — posing an ongoing threat even for countries whose populations are vaccinated.
American philanthropy can help by supporting nonprofits across the globe that are addressing immediate needs in hard-hit communities. For example, the Health Justice Initiative, which was founded during the pandemic by South African activist lawyer Fatima Hassan, has successfully used the courts in that country to create greater government and corporate transparency and accountability in Covid-19 vaccine access. Right now, the group is using legal and advocacy strategies to regulate pricing for coronavirus treatments.
Human rights lawyers like Hassan could change the course of the pandemic around the world by deploying legal tools to address human-rights violations stemming from inequitable access to vaccines, while also pushing for structural reforms that would improve the response to future pandemics.
Invest in radical shifts to democratize global health.
To ensure equity, we need to fix the entirety of a global system that allows private interests to drive decisions about health.
We must democratize, localize, and decentralize every stage of the process — from drug development to distribution. My organization has built a participatory model to facilitate such structural change, beginning this year with a focus on the patent and intellectual-property system. We will bring together an interdisciplinary group, including those from affected communities, scientists, drug-company investors, policy makers, journalists, patent lawyers, movement leaders, and patients. Through this process, we will build greater understanding between people with different views about the role of patents in society, ultimately creating a blueprint for reform that has at its center the perspective of affected communities.
This is a moment of unparalleled opportunity in the global-health movement, and philanthropy can play a critical role in bringing it to fruition. It’s time for grant makers to reject the status quo that has failed too many for too long and help us replace it with a system that recognizes our obligation to provide every human being with the medical treatments and vaccines we all need and deserve.
Priti Krishtel is a co-founder and a co-executive director of the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge. @pritikrishtel
With PSI’s leadership and support, we are trying to get over 1000 health workers from India and South Africa to write to the G7 leaders (most importantly Merkel and Johnson) calling on them to support the TRIPS waiver. With the governments of India and South Africa represented at the summit we felt it was important that health worker voices from these countries were heard.
Please sign this letter and help by sharing this sign on letter as widely as possible in places you think will reach health workers in those countries.