Video/Transcription: MoCs, Civil Society and Labor Leaders Urge Biden To Launch Global Plan to End Pandemic at Next Week’s UN Summit South African Government Official Will Provide Update on WTO

Lori Wallach 

Okay, thank you all. Welcome to this news conference. We have an amazing panel. Thank you for joining us at this critical moment. My name is Lori Wallach, and I’m the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and I am the emcee for this press conference. The moment we face with the Delta variant foreshadowing what a future of an endless pandemic would look like, with the lack of vaccination resulting in outbreaks, breeding more dangerous variants and an endless cycle of death and economic hardship. That is a future that is entirely unacceptable. And with the UN Global Assembly starting today, President Biden has a powerful opportunity to change that, and to end the pandemic. The mismatch to date between the crisis we face and world leaders’ failure to deliver on the concrete actions needed to end the pandemic is disastrous and unacceptable. Today, we’re going to hear from an amazing panel of members of Congress, labor leaders, health leaders, faith leaders, and a special involvement from a representative of the government of South Africa, who has led at the WTO to try and get a waiver of the IP obstacles that are now in the way of the buildup that’s needed of greater volume of vaccines, treatments and tests. Ending the pandemic is a political choice. The world has the technical, the medical, the financial means to vaccinate the world and the pandemic. There are three clear steps that speakers are going to talk about. Getting IP monopoly barriers out of the way through a temporary WTO waiver, and technology transfer through sharing the recipes that the current monopoly producers have were not sharing or not seeing that enough is produced, and the funding for the necessary global production around the world so that people in countries around the world are not reliant on a few monopoly sources and the value needed of vaccines, treatments and tests can be made. Global leaders have to take action to be sure there’s enough vaccine treatments and tests and this is the time they can do it. We have great hopes for President Biden leading the world to that end, there is no alternative. This is the way forward to ending the pandemic. And with that is my honor to introduce our first speaker. We will hear from all of our speakers briefly and then we’ll have a question-and-answer period at the end. I want to just flag that our members of Congress, Congressman Jan Schakowsky and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro are basically in between events and if someone has to pop away briefly, I apologize in advance. And I know Congresswoman Schakowsky is literally on the sidelines of a markup. So thank you both. I will start with Congressman Schakowsky. It’s my honor to introduce Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. She is the Senior Deputy Whip. She is also the chair of the subcommittee of Energy and Commerce, consumer protection and commerce subcommittee, she has been one of the nation’s leading advocates for access to affordable medicine and she has been a champion in fighting for the TRIPS waiver and sufficient volumes of vaccines to end the pandemic. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, please.

 

Rep. Schakowsky 

Thank you for your leadership, Lori. So let me just say that the Delta-driven third wave of COVID-19 that is underway right now underscores the absolute urgent need to act to end the pandemic worldwide. And this is a moment of opportunity, and actually can happen. And President Biden can act now at his special COVID-19 summit that is being held in conjunction with the UN General Assembly, which is as you pointed out starting today. On May 5 of this year, President Biden showed the courage and the incredible foresight in declaring his support for a temporary waiver of the World Trade Organization TRIPS rule, calling for the temporary pause of a complete monopoly power of the current vaccine makers. We’re talking particularly about Pfizer and Moderna. Intellectual property rights would be temporarily suspended, and countries would have access to the recipe and the know-how to quickly manufacture millions of doses of vaccines to save millions and millions of lives. But now, nearly five months later, the time has come to get Germany and other rich countries who are blocking the way to support this waiver. And what we are doing is asking President Biden to close the deal. The time has come. Time is absolutely of the essence because we know that no one in the world is safe until everyone is safe from this wily virus that keeps changing. We know that Tony Fauci actually warned us that the next variant could be resistant to the current vaccines. That is a nightmare scenario. So, these variants could begin anywhere in the world. And we know that that delta started in India. So less than 2% of the entire population of the African continent right now is vaccinated. And worldwide, only one of 47 people are vaccinated, that’s about 2%. Big Pharma likes to say that these developing countries just don’t have the manufacturing capacity, don’t have the scientific skills, don’t have the ability to produce vaccines. But you know what, that is just absolutely wrong. And frankly, it’s racist to say that. There are right now, dozens of vaccine makers in Asia, in Africa, in the Middle East and Latin America, that are producing various kinds of pharmaceuticals. They could do it, 131 nations began asking for this TRIPS waiver in October of 2020. And yet today, there is a horrifying shortage of vaccine. We know that. And the United States must at this time exert leadership now and save millions and millions of lives around the world, including lives that are at stake here at home in the United States. This is the moment. Please, President Biden, we are so grateful to you, the world was rejoicing when you said that you were in favor of a waiver, that you’re willing to put people over the profits of the pharmaceutical companies, and now is the moment. So, thank you so much.

 

Lori Wallach 

Thank you very much Congresswoman Schakowsky. It is now my honor to introduce Congressman Rosa DeLauro. She is the chair of the Appropriations Committee. She has been a longtime leader for just trade policies, and has led her colleagues and many a battle to make sure that not only do trade agreements not offshore jobs, but do not raise medicine prices by extending patent monopoly. She’s a leader in the fight to get the temporary waiver of the TRIPS agreement monopolies Congressman Rosa DeLauro, please.

 

Rep. DeLauro 

Thank you so much Lori. Thank you for organizing today’s event and for your steadfast leadership in this area and all areas pertaining to trade in the United States and what happens to working men and women, and I just want to compliment my colleague, Jan Schakowsky, and thank her for her leadership on this issue, in particular, she has really led the way for all of us. Let me just take a second to acknowledge Ambassador Zane Dangor with Republic of South Africa, Sheila Davis, Executive Director of Partners in Health, Father Charles Chilufya, Jesuit representative for Africa and Madagascar, and Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer at Partners in Health and Sarah Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants CWA and Lori, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. All of you have been outstanding partners in urging the administration to safeguard Americans health and their economic security deliver on President Biden’s pledge to save lives around the world by leading the global vaccination effort and to end this pandemic. It is a unique time in our country. We’re still recovering from this pandemic, the greatest public health and economic crisis in a generation. But let me be clear, no one is safe, as my colleague Jan Schakowsky said, until everyone is safe, and while we have made enormous strides vaccinating the US population, that’s simply not enough. The Coronavirus continues surging and far too many countries around the world. These are extraordinary times that demand extraordinary measures. That is why I will continue to support the decision made by President Biden earlier this year at the World Trade Organization to temporarily waive some of the world’s intellectual property rules to increase the global supply for Coronavirus vaccines. And I know that everyone here agrees, and we all agree that everyone deserves access to these life-saving vaccines. As the UN General Assembly summit is beginning of the President’s leadership is essential. His leadership is essential to help end the pandemic. And it is time for the President to deliver on his historic support for this waiver. He is supported, he now needs to lead the way. And it is time that White House COVID Czar Jeffery Zients, for him to unveil a promised global COVID plan as the Delta variant detected in India, where vaccines are scarce, is now causing death and devastation worldwide. I strongly believe that the UN General Assembly and the President’s global COVID-19 summit will be successful if the president uses this opportunity to get the WTO waiver done, which will facilitate broad tech transfer to speed up greater COVID medicine supplies, move funding for expanding global production. You know, I always bring this back to my view that the United States has a moral responsibility. We should be leaders in the world on this effort, we need to step up and lead to share what we have learned to do everything that we can to alleviate suffering around the world. I applaud the administration for displaying the kind of bold leadership needed at the WTO. But now’s the time for follow-through, expand the global supply of vaccines, deliver them to the people and the countries who need them, and are bringing us closer to ending this pandemic. You know, I want to quote Dr. Fauci who I agree with when he says, and I quote, you cannot have people throughout the world dying because they do not have access to a product that rich people have access to. This is one of the most moral questions of our time. I firmly believe that we must be on the right side of history. And that means prioritizing people over pharmaceutical profits and ensuring that a global vaccine is a global, a common good during the campaign, then candidate Biden said he would commit to sharing the technology and access to Coronavirus vaccines, if the United States developed one first. Well, let me just say that candidate Joe Biden was right then and now as president, he is right at the WTO. And he will be right today, once we deliver on these actions at the UN General Assembly that are so desperately needed to end the pandemic. The time to act is now, we cannot let the moment pass. And the United States can recapture its leadership role by taking on what is one of the greatest humanitarian causes ever. And we need to bring this pandemic to an end. And I thank you all very, very much for all of your efforts.

 

Lori Wallach 

Thank you so much, Congresswoman. And I think what you said underscores for all of us the urgency of this moment, the opportunity of the UN summit and what is success there looks like it successes as you said seizing this key moment to deliver on ending the pandemic. We have the honor of being joined and our next speaker will be by Mr. Zane Dangor from the Republic of South Africa. He is the special adviser to the foreign minister. South Africa with India has led at the WTO for a temporary waiver of the intellectual property barriers imposed by the trade-related intellectual property agreement TRIPS agreement, the WTO and South Africa and India now have over 130 countries supporting the loss of lead the US being one of them since May 5, which was a beautiful and amazing initiative by the Biden administration. But sadly, in the three and a half months since that initiative has not moved forward, and at this point, it’s largely being blocked by a handful of countries, namely the European Union, led by Germany, and the UK and Switzerland. It is my honor to introduce Zane Dangor. Please, sir.

 

Zane Dangor 

Good afternoon from my side. And good morning to you, Lori. Thank you for having me on the panel to speak on South Africa’s initiative. I think from the outset, we’d like to thank President Biden for supporting, I think it was an important shift. We saw when the US government expressed support for the waiver, there was a shift also in the number of other countries that came on board. But as the Congresspersons have pointed out, both of them that this initiative was tabled last year, in October, and steadily we got significant numbers of countries supporting it. You know, just to underscore the aim of the way at the end of the way, it was to galvanize a global response to a more efficient response to the pandemic and ensuring that lifesaving medication, including vaccines get to all in the world and that there’s a more equitable distribution of therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines as they get developed. You know, what the waiver doesn’t do? The waiver does not take away the IP rights of Big Pharma. The waiver merely seeks to make the transactions and the transactional costs associated with equitable access easier. Under the current TRIPS framework, it’s incredibly difficult, especially for low- and middle-income countries. So, it’s temporary in nature. It’s designed to coincide with the timing of the pandemic. And initially, we said, two to three years. But as we warned that, the more we delay in ensuring equitable access, the longer the pandemic becomes. Dr. Fauci was quoted, but a lot of other epidemiologist that also warned that if we don’t have equitable access, as with most viruses, you are going to get variants that emerge and variant of concern that will make the battle across the globe a lot more difficult. So that was the intent of the waiver. And again, just to recall some of the numbers that some of the previous speakers spoke about. Today 42% of the world’s population, as it as received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That means, you know, it’s about 5.8 billion doses has been administered globally. If you take those numbers into account, and actually realize that, if one looks at the developing world, particularly low- and middle-income countries, it’s less than 2% of the people who have received, at least one does, and these numbers just give you a sense of how skewed the distribution still is the impact of vaccine nationalism. And it’s within this context that the urgent action required by President Biden and the US is so important. I think the action by the US is particularly important to shift the needle in the negotiations, to shift things forward and make people come around the table and discuss these issues faster. We do know that the EU has expressed this week that they are not keen for an outcome on the TRIPS waiver proposal at the at the upcoming ministerial council and would like to kick this discussion further down the road to you know, way after the upcoming ministerial. The US in Geneva, the WTO has expressed support for an outcome at the upcoming ministerial. So already we are seeing action by the US side, but we need out of this week summit next week summit in the deliberations emerging this week commitment on a text from the US that can be tabled and negotiated with South Africa, India and other co-sponsors so that we can have an outcome and get to the business of actually ensuring that we could jabs in arms of those who need it most, and that we have equitable access, and that in the long term, we change the nature in which we have the asymmetrical nature of vaccines production and consumption globally. So aside from supporting the waiver, we also need immediate support from the US for some of the some of the US-based companies who are refusing, for example, to share the technology. With the WHO hubs that are being established. The first hub that has been established through the WHO program is in South Africa. And we don’t have access to what is called late-stage technology, the proven technology, we have to look at working with emerging technologies that have not yet been proven; this is in terms of mRNA. So again, the US can play a big role. And also, organizations like yourselves can push, for example, the IP owners, files and others, to work with the WHO to ensure that they have access to the technology that is required to ensure that we save the planet. Thanks.

 

Lori Wallach 

Thank you very much for that intervention. And just to underscore again, very concretely, what a large group of civil society groups are demanding is that President Biden at the UN Global summit, which starts next week, by the end of the UNGA, the US can announce a final deal on actual waiver language working with South Africa and India, getting Germany out of the way to actually deliver one year after it was introduced on October 2, 2020. Deliver on the waiver that the US so helpfully wonderfully supported in May. And number two, the US can lead by example, and announcing that with respect to the World Health Organization hubs, the US will use its existing authorities to ensure that the US vaccine makers are sharing that technology so that through the World Health Organization production can be spread throughout the world. Thank you very much, Mr. Dangor. And to underscore his point and what the waiver does and doesn’t do, I also send folks to Professor Joe Stiglitz, economist and Nobel Prize winner laying out that very efficiency argument of not breaking the IP system, but making sure that in a global pandemic, information is shared. We are now honored to have joining us father Charles Chilufya. He is a Jesuit lead representative for Africa and Madagascar. He is joining us for him this evening in Nairobi, he has been a powerful leader in Africa fighting for access to the vaccines and life-saving technologies that people in rich countries have access to. But in Africa, most of the global south have to date been denied access. Father Charlie, please.

 

Father Charlie Chilufya 

Thank you very much, Lori. Thank you very much, everyone. I just want to emphasize what everyone has mentioned and put it differently. Elsewhere, we’ve seen that now one in two, or even more. In developed North are vaccinated only one in 65 vaccinated in Africa, there’s a vast difference. And it’s showing that despite the promises that we have made before, to be better prepared to do better in the next pandemic, this virus the COVID-19 has demonstrated nor lessons have been learned. And as we watch almost deliberate repeat of past mistakes. We have seen our malaria, tuberculosis, which were once called global pandemics, including HIV and AIDS, have now become endemic to in poorer regions, like Africa. So, what has happened in history is being repeated past mistakes are being repeated. But what is more disturbing in all this is that this is about human life. This is about an affront to human dignity. And I know that my fellow Catholic Joe Biden really appreciates this and I’d like to thank his leadership for favoring the waiver of TRIPS and that’s the movement in the right direction. We believe that global leaders have the power to do the right thing, but at present have chosen not to. I will believe that with his leadership, President Joe Biden can move other leaders for the first time to learn from history and respect life, respect human dignity, understand the fact that this is about children dying. This is about children losing both of their parents and remaining vulnerable as orphans. This is about health workers who are left unprotected, it’s human life at stake. Global leaders can change this. And we would like to appeal to President Biden to show to continue to show a good example and mobilize the leaders to respect life to respect human dignity. Donating excess doses of vaccines, to Kovacs, which they’re out competing is a good deed. But it’s temporary, it may temporarily assuage their guilt of failing to do more, but it is grossly inadequate, it is grossly inadequate. Vaccine donations are imperfect, they are slow, they are unsustainable. And they just ensure that the poorest countries remain firmly at the back of the queue, awaiting a trickle-down of some of the excesses from wealthy countries. That’s not the way to live in a global human community. Some have already put forward a false argument that the wealthy countries have put in their best their best doctors, their resources and everything. But this, this viewpoint is faulty, it’s wrong. It is callous in suggesting that human lives in wealthy countries have more value than those in poorer countries. It looks a failure to recognize that the truly global effort of all scientists around the world that resulted in these lifesaving vaccines was a collaborative effort from Chinese scientists, while facing the outbreak in their own country. Who rapidly identified causal agents of new diseases, trends, and shared the joint genomic sequences with the world. This is what enabled the world to work on mRNA. This is global. This is a collaboration, several COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials were done in developing countries and scientists in developing countries have generated data that have helped to develop these vaccines and not only to make them safe, but also very highly effective. Yeah, so it’s wrong to see this as an effort of the West or the North. This is this has been a global effort; everyone is equally deserving of life saving medicine. We need solutions, global solutions that are centered on vaccine access for all, not just for a few. The biggest challenge is that we need to hold those in power accountable. And we believe that America will lead the way and will support all of us to ensure that everybody is accountable, is responsible and act morally. Thank you very much.

 

Lori Wallach 

Thank you very much, Father Charlie. And from your mouth to God’s ears, as we say in my tradition, amen. It is my honor to introduce Dr. Joia Mukherjee, who is the Chief Medical Officer of Partners in Health, the amazing global medical organization that is both being a powerful leader in policy fights to get the right policies but also on the ground is saving lives around the world. And Dr. Mukajee comes from that dual perspective. We’re very honored to have her join us now please.

 

Dr. Joia Mukherjee 

Thank you so much, Lori and just so honored to be here with Representative Schakowsky, DeLauro, Mr. Dongor from South Africa, Father Chilufya. And, and Sarah who will speak soon. The market is failing us in so many ways and healthcare in general, in the pandemic in particular, and more so than ever, as global citizens and we are extremely concerned about vaccine apartheid. But not only are we concerned we’ve seen this before. We saw that the patented drugs for AIDS and the lack of manufacturing of those drugs around the world, were killing people, millions of them. We saw that with drug-resistant TB. We’ve seen it with the color of vaccine. And we’ve got to understand that our ability to work in solidarity with others is a test. I grew up in the Cold War hearing the test of the Emergency Broadcasting System. This is a test of our ability to collaborate as a globe and do things morally in the best interest of humanity. And the big test looming before us, of course, is climate change. But these things like pandemics, hunger, unemployment, migration, these are all linked. And it is really time to turn swords into plowshares. We do cannot think of security in the 21st century as continuing a military buildup continuing endless wars, we’ve got to take that money, that we’ve spent trillions of dollars, 2 billion a week for the war in Afghanistan alone, and put it into elevating the lives of all through medicine and science. And so in crisis, the Biden administration has already led and we are grateful for their temporary waiver of TRIPS, but is meaningless act, unless we put funding, funding in to transfer of technology and local production and expanding the production capabilities, as Lori mentioned, in Africa, in Asia, the Middle East Latin America, these places can do it. It’s a matter of financing the procurement of raw materials and the transfer of technology. We call on the Biden administration to put those billions of dollars into that, as we saw the United States lead in AIDS with the PEPFAR program. You know, and the commitments to the Global Fund to Fight aids, TB and malaria. These were globally-focused based on morality, based on fairness, and also based on security. And there is no way for us to get out of this without vaccinating everyone, which has been said by many of my colleagues. When we think of the security aspects, how can we think that $2 billion a week for a war in Afghanistan, which is thankfully ending couldn’t be better spent to prevent the 800,000 Americans dead, the millions around the world from COVID, when we have a vaccine, and as Father Charlie mentioned, all of the global countries have participated in one way or another in the development of the vaccine, many not all. But imagine if we had the sequence, as China did of the virus and didn’t share it with the scientists in Germany, didn’t share it with scientists in India. But that is what we’re doing with this technology. And so what we are calling on as civil society as government officials, as faith leaders, labor leaders is lead. Please lead President Biden with moral compassion with science and put our money behind a way of looking at the world for this collaborative test that we face, and so many others. We know that many countries in the global south are doing much better than the United States because they have better public health, but without the vaccine, they will not make it. And we’re grateful for the leadership of South Africa and other countries that are saying, enough is enough. We need the technology. We need the manufacturing ability and we need the money to make this happen now.

 

Lori Wallach 

Dr. Mukherjee, thank you so very much. Our last speaker will be Sarah Nelson who is the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, which is part of CWA and inspiring labor leader with her vision and passion. I would like her to be the president of something I can be a member of. And the flight attendants obviously as well as nurses as well as teachers are on the front line. And so Sarah has been an inspiring leader in this fight for vaccine justice and equity. It affects her members every day, just like it affects all of us. Sarah Nelson, please.

 

Sara Nelson 

Lori, thank you so much. And I really want to thank, of course, all the other speakers and the people who have been in this from the beginning that people who know and see on the front lines who know what a humanitarian crisis this is, and why we must mobilize together and act. This is a worker issue too, our workplace is the entire world. And so, the world leaders who are standing in the way of making sure that we are mobilizing every effort to remove all roadblocks to get this vaccine to every single person to distribute that to produce it. I would like to ask them, where do you think your flight attendants are going when they go to work? This cannot be centralized in a specific country, you cannot hide your face, you cannot put your head under the covers. Forgive me but I just spent the weekend going to 20-year remembrances of September 11. And what this reminds me of is that we went to work on the morning of September 11, as flight attendants. And we were told that, up to that point that we needed to comply, we needed to keep everyone calm, we were given the exact wrong training to meet the crisis that we were facing that day. And it was flight attendants on the front line as first responders who got us some of the intelligence that day that made its way to flight 93. And on that flight, there was a representation of every gender, race, culture and creed. On that plane, it looked like a representation of people from around the world. And in a moment’s time, they were just one force against a threat that was threatening their lives and the rest of ours on the ground. And they immediately mobilized, think about that, in an hour’s time, with good information. And we have had good information for a good amount of time here to take action against this major threat against all of us around the world. It’s our jobs, our economic security, our families, our communities, the threats that we face at work. In a moment’s time, they acted together. And they saved the rest of our lives. And I went to New York, a few months after the tragedy 20 years ago. And I was so struck with the fact that there were messages from all around the world, that this inspired them, this act of mobilization together against a threat. And the worldwide efforts to change our practices, so that we would remove that threat in aviation, and keep each other safe. And that’s the same thing that we can do now, last week, President Biden told the rest of the world show some respect on the planes. We are not divided around this issue. This is a moment where world leaders need to lead with the union adage that an injury to one is an injury to all. And we can show our true human spirit with this humanitarian crisis, to mobilize together in a global response that ends this pandemic, ends the hurt and harm to all of our communities, lifts up every individual, make sure that we are lifting up equality for all. That’s what this moment is. And so flight attendants around the world, President Biden, we want to inject back to you as you meet the rest of the leaders around the world. That we come with you with great respect to marshal a global response to end this pandemic. We need you to do this for workers. We need you to do this for every community. We need you to do this because this is what the human spirit does when it is up against a threat. And we have seen it time and time again. We know you’re the leader to do it. And we are with you all the way. Thank you to all the other speakers. It’s time to end this pandemic. And we can do it together.

 

Lori

Sarah, thank you so much, and for those inspiring words. And we will now turn to questions and answers. The reporters who have questions have started to put them into the q&a. And please reporters and others if you have questions, add them. I’m going to start by reading one that came from Peter Sullivan from the Hill that specifically not knowing when Congressman DeLauro might be pulled away from us for a vote or other activity, I’m going to start with that one and turn to one that’s related from Facebook. So it says some lawmakers have called for 34 billion for global COVID vaccine manufacturing and the reconciliation bill. Do the congresswomen support that? And do you think it has a chance of being added? And then a related question is, if there is more money, but there is no technology transfer or a waiver of the TRIPS agreement temporarily, how can the money translate actually into more vaccines and medicines being made?

 

Rep. DeLauro 

Thank you very much for the question. And let me just say I want to say thank you to the other panelists for their commentary, I think they really tell the story. It’s very powerful story and poignant story. And it is about saving humanity. And I don’t know that there is saving lives. And there is no more noble cause with regard to the requests. And I know, I’ve talked to my colleagues who have requested the funding the 34 in the reconciliation package, there have been discussions about what potentially can be done in the reconciliation package. And those discussions will continue to happen. But let me just say this, I think that we need to take a look at what other vehicles there are, besides reconciliation. Reconciliation at the moment is dealing with a whole variety of issues, childcare, paid leave a child tax credit housing education. And we know that there is just nonstop negotiations around those issues. I have had conversations about were are funds that we might be able to tap into? I don’t have a dollar amount yet, but we need to focus on where we can, if there are any possibilities for reconciliation? And I’m not sure there are but what are the other avenues of doing it, the President has said he’s going to make an announcement in terms of ramping up supply. But this needs to be more of an emergency supplemental bill, if you will, on its own or a more independent way of trying to look at what we need to be able address this issue. And it is coupled with the political leadership of the United States. It’s seriously I think it’s a way for us to gain trust with the rest of the world on an issue that is about health. It’s not about nuclear energy. It’s not about other public policy issues. It’s about people’s lives and saving those lives. With regard to I think if we do not have the technology transfer that we’re talking about, we are fooling ourselves into believing that we can address this issue in a stronger way as we need to. We’re being blocked by pharmaceutical companies and we are being blocked, as been pointed out, by European countries by Germany by the UK that logjam has to be broken, if without the technology transfer, I think you have to couple that with the increase in the supply, the two need to go together. You can’t have one without the other.

 

Lori Wallach 

Thank you very much, Congresswoman. And this is a question that is kind of related but not from the Congress target, but from the WTO target from Doug Palmer, from Politico, and he is seeking an answer for sure from Mr. Dangor, but from anyone else who wants to comment, and the question is, it seems like the discussions at the WTO are stuck, largely because of opposition from the EU. Do you think narrowing the request to a waiver for COVID-19, I think he may mean for COVID-19 vaccines. It’s not what he wrote, instead of therapeutics, diagnostics and other products would make it easier to reach an agreement. If not, how do you hope to persuade the EU and other holdouts to go along? So I think there’s a typo in there. I think the question, should the waiver be narrowed to just vaccines, and if not how to proceed?

 

Zane Dangor 

We’ve discussed the implications of narrowing the scope of the waiver. The waiver is looking at diagnostics, therapeutics, and of course, the vaccines. And we are willing to engage the US initially came within support of a more narrow approach. And while we’re reluctant to immediately agree to a narrow approach is that the nature of the pandemic is that you still have large numbers of people across the world without access to medical oxygen, for example, you know, the kind of therapeutics needed to save lives, goes beyond vaccines, the vaccines are important, and we need to focus on them, but you have all sorts of other medicines and therapeutics, oxygen, that is required that have huge IP barriers to them. That needs to be dealt with as well. And therefore, the scope of the waiver from the outset was to look at the entire supply chain of what it also, you know, this IP is on the essential materials needed to manufacture the vaccines itself. And narrowing the scope of the way but in a way that doesn’t deal with what is actually needed, may just result in a waver that does more of the same, which is nothing. Also, I think that what we want to ask the European Union delegations to do so unlike the WHO with the EU is not a member, but you are the individual member states, you see a different perspective coming through from delegations such as France and others, or when they speak in the national capacity as supportive of the weather at the WTO though, EU member states are bound by the agreement of the collective. And this makes it a lot tougher because the collective could be one or two countries. Very powerful within the EU framework. And that is what we should be focusing on is that this waiver is temporary in nature, you know, we could always go back and deal with some of the other issues that we may have, with the many restrict flexibilities interpreted and implemented. And that’s for another time, what we want to do now is focused on what we need to do to ensure that we get the kinds of medications, the therapeutics distributed in such a way that it does save lives. Also remember that testing kits, for example, are part of this, if you are not able to test people, because tests are expensive, because of the IP barriers linked to that, then we don’t know the quantum of the problem that we’re dealing with. So we see that we will be flexible. And we’ve spoken to other delegations that support us. But right now, we think that the manner in which we’ve worded the way that makes sense, and we should get the European Union and the western border around that.

 

Lori Wallach 

Thank you very much. I’m going to offer anyone else who wants to comment on that before we go to the next question. But I want to add one thing which is It is worth noting on the 26th of September Germany’s having a national election and today there is a global day of action that’s private global week of action that has actions around the world at German embassies in front of German companies all through Asia, Latin America and Africa, pushing on Germany pushing on the future whomever it will be leaders of Germany because it’s going to change, Angela Merkel is not going to be the Chancellor in a matter of weeks, so that Germany will stop blocking the European Union position. Both the UK and Switzerland have made fairly clear that they are not going to block this waiver by themselves. If Germany is not getting the EU to block it, then this waiver is going forward. The German election the German politician. Yesterday there was a letter signed by many former heads of state and some many Nobel laureates calling on the three candidates for Chancellor who are the primary three likely future leaders of Germany to stop blocking this waiver. As far as the scope I just want to flag before I bring in Dr. Mukherjee, that civil society and members of Congress have both made very clear that they want the scope to be broader than just vaccines for the very reasons that Mr. Dangor mentioned, which is if you can’t test you don’t know what you’re dealing with. If you can’t treat you’re going to have many needless deaths. So the scope of the waiver covering everything needed to actually stop the pandemic and save lives and get the economy going is what it has to be. And that’s why that is if you look at the letter signed by half of the House Democrats, etc. That is the position. Dr. Mukherjee.

 

Dr. Joia Mukherjee 

Yeah, I would just add, though, that we focus on IP at our own peril timewise. Because, yes, we need a broad IP waiver. But without the money and the transfer of technology, it doesn’t happen. And so this is something the Biden administration could be doing now, if we start to talk about how much money is needed $35-40 billion, again it’s chump change. It’s 20 weeks in Afghanistan. Then we can figure out who, you know, can transfer the technology, we could pay for all the vaccines, right. But that would be one strategy. So I think we’ve got to push this on multiple levels. And I agree with Mr. Dangor, that we need a broad waiver, but we need the money, and we need to start pushing forward with local manufacturing now, regardless.

 

Lori Wallach 

Thank you very much. I have a question from Carmen from Politico that I think Sara will be a person to talk about, but also anyone else, which is information about a global COVID summit, the White House’s convening next week has started to trickle down with the Biden administration wanting leaders to commit to vaccinate 70% of the world by next September. Is that now fast enough? Will this summit make any difference? Will it be just another talking shop? And then I have a Facebook question which says, according to The Washington Post, the targets of the Biden COVID summit, seem to be all about donating doses as compared to actually getting more production around the world or getting more production. It’s sharing pieces of pizza versus making more pies. Will that make a difference for your members, or any of the rest of us? And that one is specifically for Sara.

 

Sara Nelson 

Yeah, if we, if we just leave this to a charity structure, this isn’t going to get done. And the fact of the matter is, when we do safety work, that is in the regulation, that is something that applies to all airlines across the board. That is not something that we hope that leaders of corporations who have to answer to their boards and are trying to get good PR are going to just you know, do out of the goodness of their heart. And it also is just simply not the way that you mobilize a global response. It slows things down. It doesn’t create the urgency, and it doesn’t allow us to interface with each other. You know, if you have a lot of kind-hearted people coming from corporations trying to do good humanitarian things, you’re also not coordinating with other companies that you’re competing with for that message about how great you are as a humanitarian actor. So yes, are our members know that this has to be led from a government response, it has to be coordinated at the government level, it has to be a global response. And the response to COVID-19 cannot be a response that that capitalism can meet. It’s just, it’s just not going to work. There has to be a basic standard for safety, full stop. And if we know when we do our jobs, that if you can’t take safety for granted, as a member of the traveling public, you’re not going to buy a ticket. It’s just that simple. And so safety is non-negotiable. And it should not be put into any sort of stream where we hope that people do the right thing. It simply has to be mandated. It has to be mobilized, and it has to be a government function.

 

Lori Wallach 

Thank you very much, Sara. I’m going to flag one more question. And then I see Mr. Dangor wants to jump in. And then we will close our news conference. And Sara, thank you very much for your participation. The question is from the New York Times from Lara Jakes and it’s for Congresswoman DeLauro, specifically, so actually, I’m not going to read that one out loud. Instead, I’m going to say please contact Caitlin Thorpe, of Congresswoman DeLauro’s office to get a response to that it had to do with the conflicts between the multilateralism that the Biden administration is seeking and the need to squeeze some particular countries to get out of the way of the TRIPS waiver, etc. Mr. Dangore, you have your hand up.

 

Zane Dangor 

Thanks, Lori. I’ll be quick. I think that dose sharing is welcome. But dose sharing is not the answer. You know, the answer is the systemic change. And I think, you know, the issue of ensuring that if we don’t, IP doesn’t have to hold us up IP is a significant discussion. But if we can have voluntary tech transfer working, for example, with the who has made some patent pool and other mechanisms that would have allowed for, you know, sharing of license holders or matching of license holders with the idle capacity in many other parts of the world, the kinds of debates that the WTO may not have necessary, but it shows you that it is necessary because the voluntary licensing approach has not worked while volunteerism has not worked. And philanthropy-based diplomacy in the space has not worked either. So I think this is the way the call for systemic change is so necessary.

 

Lori Wallach 

That is exactly the perfect place to end that is exactly I think this spirit and the thoughts that you heard throughout this news conference, a transcript of this news conference, as well as a link to the actual video of it as well as contact information for our amazing participants will be available shortly and there will be a link sent around to all the participants and broader press lists of all of that information. Again, I would like very much to thank everyone who has joined us to thank Congresswoman Schakowsky and DeLauro to thank Mr. Dangor, Father Charlie, Dr. Mukajee, Sarah Nelson. Thank you all press for joining And with that, I close the news conference. Thank you very much to participants and press alike.