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The ‘Compromise’ Version of the TRIPS Waiver and the Illusion of Victory

Alan Rossi Silva and Luciana M. N. Lopes represent Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), a global student-driven organization in defense of universal access to medicines and a fair biomedical innovation system. Alan is a PhD candidate in Law at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and Luciana is a PhD student in Public Health at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), in Brazil. She is also the Executive Director for UAEM in Latin America.

Read more about The Compromise Version of the TRIPS Waiver and the Illusion of Victory as Luciana and Alan urge to not accept this ‘compromise’ of the TRIPS waiver agreement.

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Urgent Letter to President Biden

Dear President Biden,

We are writing to you ahead of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to urge that you take on a global leadership role and fulfill your promise of addressing COVID-19 around the world. We understand that during the UNGA, you will be hosting a global vaccine summit with participation of other world leaders where you will be announcing an admirable target of 70% of the world’s population to be vaccinated within the next year.

Reaching this goal, however, will be impossible unless you and other world leaders take action to ensure equitable vaccine distribution.

While it is commendable that your administration has procured and distributed COVID-19 vaccines to other countries in need, we cannot “donate” our way to safety. The massive global shortage of highly effective vaccines can only be addressed by increasing production. As of this week, just over 3% of people in low-income countries, many of whom are also facing devastating surges from deadly variants, have received any dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

COVAX, the global program intended to secure and distribute doses for low- and middle-income countries is failing. Recently, COVAX cut its forecast for doses available in 2021 by a quarter, driven in large part by wealthier nations stockpiling excess doses in lieu of providing these
vaccines and funds to this global program. As your administration considers distributing third booster doses to a broader population of Americans, it must not ignore the equity considerations of such a policy in further delaying vaccine access to people in the Global South, many of whom have yet to receive even a single dose. Moreover, such an approach may also only further fuel the emergence of even more virulent variants, which thrive in unvaccinated populations.

To truly make America the world’s “arsenal” of global vaccine access, we ask that you immediately deliver on the following policies:

  • launch an ambitious global vaccine manufacturing program with other countries to help produce billions more highly effective doses within one year and support a dedicated financing line item in the Build Back Better Act committing billions of dollars to this effort;
  • use your full authorities to require the few firms with monopolies over effective vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics to transfer technology and production know-how to manufacturers in the Global South;
  • set an example for other countries by reallocating excess doses available to countries in the Global South via COVAX or regional procurement mechanisms; and
  • work with allied countries on a final text to speedily enact a temporary, emergency waiver of certain World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) rules that create barriers to widespread production of COVID-19 health technologies including vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments


Attached are further details of why these four steps are critically important towards realizing the goal of vaccinating 70% of the world’s population within the next year. We also outline the tremendous capability you have to carry forward these policies to end this pandemic. Your leadership on these above steps is urgently needed to move the world closer to a future where the pandemic truly ends for everyone, everywhere. At the UNGA, we hope that you will not just
offer more promises for these urgently needed policy measures, but that you will take on a global leadership role in implementing them.

Short of such action, the pandemic will continue its devastation, driven by a lack of political will to truly engage in a global, collective effort to protect everyone, everywhere.

Sincerely,

  • Action Corps 
  • Africa Faith and Justice Network 
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation 
  • Alianza Americas 
  • American Federation of Teachers Connecticut
  • American Jewish World Service 
  • American Medical Student Association 
  • Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network
  • Bangladesh Krishok Federation 
  • BARAC UK
  • CASA 
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • Congregation of Our Lady of Charityof the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces 
  • Doctors For America Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) North America 
  • Faith for Safe Water Fondation
  • Eboko Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research 
  • Free the Vaccine for COVID-19
  • Global Health Partners 
  • Health GAP (Global Access Project) 
  • Hope for Future Generations
  • Human Rights Watch 
  • IFARMA Foundation 
  • I-MAK 
  • Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility 
  • Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns 
  • Médecins Sans Frontières USA 
  • Metro New York Health Care for All 
  • National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  • National Nurses United
  • Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
  • New York Doctors Coalition
  • New York Trade Justice Coalition
  • Oxfam America
  • Plateforme de la Diaspora Tchadienne en America
  • Progressive Doctors
  • Public Citizen
  • Rise and Resist
  • Salud y Farmacos
  • SECTION27
  • Service Employees International Union
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice NYC
  • Social Security Works
  • Society for International Development
  • SODECA- KENYA
  • Sojourners
  • Sukaar Welfare Organization
  • The Episcopal Church
  • The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
  • Third World Network
  • Treatment Action Group
  • Unity Fellowship of Christ Church NYC
  • Universities Allied for Essential Medicines
  • VOCAL-NY
  • Washington Office on Latin America
  • World Renew

For further details download this attachment below:

  

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Rally Outside Moderna!

By Maansa Gurram – Free the Vaccine Student Lead

Sharing a brief update on the latest action to fight for global equity in access to vaccines!

On Thursday, April 28th, activists from Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 in conjunction with partners and advocates from People’s Action, Health GAP and others gathered in Boston in front of the pharmacutical corporation Moderna to fight for a people’s vaccine. This was the day of the Moderna shareholders meeting at which Moderna’s profits were to be announced. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to rage in the Global South, an inequitable and vastly insufficient global vaccination effort threatens the lives of people around the world, including in the United States. Moderna generated over 6 billion USD in revenue for the first quarter of 2022 and made $12 billion in profits in 2021. 

Students, politicians, doctors, lawyers, and individuals from all different walks of life came together to share their stories and demand that Moderna put people over profit. The number of deaths from COVID-19 are now estimated to be over 15 million according to the World Health Organization and despite high income nations trying to open up, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still rising in many parts of the world. None of us are safe until all of us are safe.

Moderna holds the power to greatly increase access to the vaccine  and decrease the burden of Covid-19 by sharing the science and sharing the intellectual property rights to produce the vaccine. Activists rallied for three days, where they participated in actions to increase the pressure on Moderna. Actions included marching from Galaxy Park to Moderna Headquarters, calls to the CEO of Moderna, leading teach-ins, calls to individuals with power to share the wealth,  a vigil, and much more. The efforts brought attention to the urgency of the situation and the call to action given to Moderna in doing its part to end the pandemic and our “Sharing is Caring” carebears made they own appearance again!

Onwards!

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New Licensing Announcement between NIH and WHO C-TAP

On May 12, 2022, President Biden announced a licensing agreement between the NIH and WHO Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

The announcement was made by the US Government at the second Global COVID-19 Summit, co-hosted by the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal. Launched in 2020 by the WHO Director-General and the President of Costa Rica, and supported by 43 Member States, C-TAP aims to facilitate timely, equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 health products by boosting their production and supply through open, transparent and non-exclusive licensing agreements. 

Since the early stages of the pandemic, UAEM and Free the Vaccine teams have been urging universities to support C-TAP. This news is well received and leading institutions should follow suit.

Read more about the agreement here: https://www.who.int/news/item/12-05-2022-who-and-mpp-announce-agreement-with-nih-for-covid-19-health-technologies

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Public Citizen: May 4th Vigil for Global Vaccine Equity

WHEN: Wednesday, May 4th at 8 p.m. ET

WHERELafayette Park in Front of the White House (set up starts 7:30pm)

On the evening of May 4th, Public Citizen and our allies will hold a candlelight vigil in front of the White House marking the one-year anniversary since President Biden announced U.S. support for the TRIPS waiver at the WTO. A year later, the WTO has failed to deliver this important waiver, while the pandemic rages.

As part of the vigil, we will project video messages from Ady Barkan and a number of international civil society leaders on a huge screen calling on President Biden to secure a true TRIPS waiver that covers COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatments and demand Congress pass funding to vaccinate the world and save lives. 

The event will be live-streamed on Facebook/Twitter and any cross-posting partners are welcome. 

Please join us if you are able to, and please share this email with folks in your network!

For more information, please contact Ryan Harvey (rharvey@citizen.org) or (202-454-5129).

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The New York Times: Save the America’s Patent System

“The patent office holds sway over huge swaths of the U.S. economy,” said Priti Krishtel, an attorney and co-founder of the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge, a nonprofit dedicated to patent system reform. “It has the power to shape markets, and just about every industry you can think of, from agriculture to technology, is impacted by its shortcomings.”

It has been argued for decades that patents are essential for American innovation. However, many patents only modify what is already existing and rarely contribute a completely new discovery, extending product monopolies for decades and adding billions to soaring health care costs. There is a severe need for reform of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. While it is concerning that the agency has spent the past year without a permanent director, there is an opportunity to modernize and fortify the patent system in the following ways. There must be an enforcement of existing standards, improvement in the process for challenging bad patents, elimination of potential conflicts of interest, collaboration with other agencies and public participation. The patent system affects everyone, therefore, it is only fair to allow people to gain a voice in what is right.

You can read more here:

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Students for Global COVID-19 Vaccine & Treatment Justice Petition

As students and citizens who have directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a responsibility to make sure our government is working to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to bring about a more equitable end to the pandemic for EVERYONE. The U.S. needs to share its vaccine technologies with the rest of the world. If you agree with this statement and you support vaccine equity, then sign the petition below.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd9UWRAyJrNqezYuV6ki50kI5k7HKi6y65NJBk-Pb9iYLwlow/viewform

The idea that “no one is safe until everyone is safe” is more than just a slogan. Prioritizing the expansion of the COVID vaccine, test and treatment production needed to prevent needless death and suffering abroad is both a moral imperative and a matter of justice. Global vaccine and treatment equity is also critical to protecting the future for students like ourselves.

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Rally at Moderna to Share Science and End COVID

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to rage in the Global South, an inequitable and vastly insufficient global vaccination effort threatens the lives of people around the world, including in the U.S.

Over the last two years, a diverse coalition of groups of public health, trade policy, and access to medicine organizations have been campaigning for global cooperation to end the pandemic. We are now stepping up organizing and mobilization to ensure we get COVID-19 vaccines on the scale we need around the globe. This spring we plan to specifically ramp up pressure on Moderna to license mRNA vaccine technology culminating in a game changing grassroots mobilization around their annual shareholder meeting.

JOIN US on April 28th, 2022 at 5pm with a march starting at Galaxy Park in Cambridge. There will be virtual ways to engage through story sharing, social media actions, and supporting one of our teams from afar.

Sign Up for the Townhall Here:

https://www.crowdcast.io/e/lczwm3wi/register

Sign Up for the Protest Here:

https://actionnetwork.org/events/share-science-end-covid/

Endorsing Organizations:

Justice is Global
Health GAP
Mass Care
Right Care Alliance
Students for Solidarity
Right to Health Action
Boston DSA
Free the Vaccine for COVID-19
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines
Massachusetts Peace Action
Massachussetts Community Action Network
ACT UP Boston
(more on the way!)

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END COVID MONOPOLIES

March 11 marks the beginning of the third year since the World Health Organization formally declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Join us to demand world leaders stand with people, not Big Pharma, and finally end this pandemic. We must #EndCOVIDMonopolies

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What’s the deal with the new COVID-19 pills? Why is Emory University’s license perpetuating inequity?

Merith Basey, Executive Director for UAEM North America, writes about the harmful role that Emory University has played in the licensing of a publicly-funded treatment, molnupiravir. Click on the link below for the full article in STAT News.

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How to make the impossible possible?

Just last night, we wrapped up our fourth season of Free the Vaccine for COVID-19! We’ve learned so much with our partners at the Center for Artistic Activism (C4AA) and we’ve delivered over 120 creative actions and many more prototypes in the fight for health equity and justice. Through our advocacy labs we continue to innovate new ways to pressure universities, publicly-funded institutions, corporations and governments to share COVID-19 medicines with the world. I’m delighted to share that it’s now your chance to get in on the action and learn some of the lessons we’ve been teaching throughout the campaign!

Art of Activism Book

The Art of Activism, brought to you by the co-founders of the C4AA, brings together their extensive practical knowledge—gleaned from over a decade’s experience training activists around the world—with theoretical insights from fields as far-ranging as cultural studies and cognitive science. If you look closely you’ll see some familiar faces and campaign actions from our network and beyond.

If you’re looking for a way to shake up your activism at a Universities Allied for Essential Medicines chapter, at your job or in life, I can’t recommend this book enough. We all are dreaming of how to make the seemingly impossible, possible and this book is a guide to help us get there. If I had my way I’d gift every UAEM student, board member and donor this book! Instead I’ll ask you to see for yourselves. And if you haven’t donated yet to our record-breaking end of year fundraising campaign then please do chip in so we can deliver more trainings to more students in 2022. Every donation makes a difference to us. And if this book inspires (which it will), consider supporting a new season of our campaign next year.

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