On Thursday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will host the launch of the Investment Opportunity for the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC), a fundraising initiative in support of global vaccination efforts. Earlier this week, Public Citizen and 65 health and development organizations called on President Biden to launch an ambitious global vaccine manufacturing program that can end the pandemic. Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program issued the following statement:
“This is not a plan to end the pandemic.
“The Biden administration’s commitment to COVAX is an essential and welcome turnaround from the self-defeating isolationism of the Trump administration.
“Yet even the most optimistic projections do not foresee a timely end to the pandemic on COVAX’s available resources, let alone providing vaccines to everyone worldwide. To date, COVAX has distributed approximately only 39 million doses worldwide. By comparison, the state of California alone has distributed 28 million doses.
“President Biden should set a clear goal to end the global pandemic as quickly as possible, and then immediately mobilize the full capabilities and resources needed for that task.
“The U.S. government urgently should invest $25 billion in a new program to vaccinate the world. The U.S. government and partners can retrofit facilities to produce 8 billion mRNA vaccine doses, enough for half the world’s population. This investment will pay for itself many times over by preventing trillions of dollars in economic loss from slower global vaccination.
“Absent this extraordinary, necessary manufacturing effort, many of the world’s people will not be vaccinated for years to come, if ever.
“Simultaneously the U.S. should support the efforts of partner nations to protect their people and expand access to COVID treatments, tests, protective equipment and vaccines, by endorsing the temporary suspension of World Trade Organization intellectual property rules proposed by South Africa and India.
“Despite U.S. support for COVAX, it will be difficult to earn goodwill if the United States continues to block partner countries’ efforts to make medical tools. The U.S. should support the TRIPS Waiver and step in with leadership to make vaccines for the billions of people who are still waiting.”