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Tuesday: Ahead of WTO Ministerial, Members of Congress Join Health, Labor, Faith and Other Groups That Will Deliver 3 Million Petitions Calling on Biden To Secure a WTO COVID Waiver; Help End the Pandemic

Speakers Will Urge Biden to Step Up Leadership and Seal Deal, Which Would Restore U.S. Standing Around World; Relieve U.S. Public Eager to See POTUS Acting to Restore Normalcy 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2021
CONTACT: Matt Groch mgroch@citizen.org (202) 454-5111


WHAT: A Zoom press conference where members of Congress will join, health, development, labor and faith leaders to discuss expectations for the WTO Ministerial (MC12), the path for enacting a COVID medicines waiver and why the failure to do so would prolong the pandemic leading to more deaths, economic hardship and social and political disruption.

Organizations will deliver three million petitions urging President Joe Biden to step up U.S. leadership to secure a temporary waiver of WTO intellectual property barriers that limit the supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests necessary to end the pandemic.

The press conference comes ahead of the key Nov. 30 WTO Ministerial, a major meeting of high-level officials from around the world, and more than a year after a COVID emergency WTO waiver was first proposed. Today less than 7% of people in low-income nations have received a first COVID shot. The petition delivery is part of actions taking place across the globe ahead of MC12 to insist that a waiver be agreed.

WHO:U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)
Paul O’Brien, Amnesty International USA, Executive Director
Avril Benoît, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) USA, Executive Director
Sara Nelson, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, President
Joia Mukherjee, MD, MPH, Partners In Health, Chief Medical Officer
Pauline Muchina, American Friends Service Committee, Public Education & Advocacy Coordinator (PEAC) for the Africa Region
Asia Russell, Health GAP, Executive Director
Lori Wallach, Public Citizen, Director of Global Trade Watch (Moderator)

WHERE: Zoom – Press can register HERE.

WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 10 a.m. E.T.

BACKGROUND: More than 100 countries and health, labor, faith, consumer and other organizations and their millions of members demand an agreement on a comprehensive WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver to be finalized at the WTO’s Ministerial Conference that starts Nov. 30 in Geneva. The majority of WTO member countries agreed that a waiver is critical to scale up production of the COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests necessary to end the pandemic. Forty organizations gathered more than three million petition signatures in support of the waiver.

On May 5, people across the globe celebrated the Biden administration joining 100-plus WTO member countries in support of the WTO waiver , which would suspend WTO intellectual property barriers that provide pharmaceutical firms with lengthy monopoly rights to control supplies of medicines — even in a global pandemic when there simply are not enough effective and affordable vaccines, tests and treatments being made. Six months later, the administration has failed to deliver on the waiver.

More than 60 WTO nations formally sponsored the South Africa-India waiver proposal and scores more support some form of waiver. But without President Joe Biden exerting leadership to deliver a waiver text, the European Union, on behalf of Germany, plus Switzerland and the United Kingdom have blocked progress even as millions die waiting for shots and treatments.

With the WTO Ministerial days away, today’s petition delivery is a painful reminder to the Biden administration that every day the U.S. fails to act, more people die. The mismatch between the administration’s stated priority of getting the world vaccinated and ending the pandemic to save lives, versus the failure to deliver on a waiver is disastrous and unacceptable.

The petition delivery is part of dozens of actions taking part across the globe leading up to and during the WTO Ministerial. The three million petition signatures add to a deluge of support for the waiver, including from the majority of U.S. House Democratsten U.S. senators170-plus former heads of state and Nobel laureates400-plus U.S. civil society organizations, 250 international organizations and over 100 international intellectual policy academics.