Video: Grassroots Coalition Demands Biden, Congress Push WTO to Allow Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Patents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2021
Contact: Emily Phelps | press@indivisible.org

Washington, DC — Today, Indivisible, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, and many more partners released a video aimed at driving activist calls to Congress demanding they push President Biden to actively lead in the fight to pass a waiver on the World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Intellectual Property (TRIP) rules to expand global access for local manufacturers to produce patent-protected COVID-19 vaccine:

“Big Pharma is spending billions convincing lawmakers to put pharma’s monopoly patents and profits before human lives…Call your Member of Congress NOW, and ask them to push Biden to use every strategic tool the administration has to deliver a comprehensive TRIPS waiver so everyone can get COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. To end this pandemic, we need to ensure every country can vaccinate a majority of their people. If we allow big pharma to maintain a vaccine monopoly while driving up prices, the world will be hit by deadlier and deadlier variants.”

“As the world’s richest countries continue to rapidly vaccinate their populations, the Delta variant is surging in middle- and low-income countries with little to no vaccines. Once again, we’re seeing Big Pharma pour millions of dollars to stop the world’s most powerful countries from doing what is right, which is to waive all patents on vaccines and treatments needed to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mary Small, National Policy Director at Indivisible. “President Biden cannot allow Big Pharma to be a gatekeeper of this vaccine while millions die and the world faces the looming threat of deadlier variants. This is a collective global fight, and President Biden must follow the lead of countries like South Africa & India by pushing our U.S. allies at the WTO to immediately pass an equitable TRIPS waiver.”

“With the lack of global vaccination fueling outbreaks that hatch more dangerous variants and threaten an endless pandemic, the Biden administration must act now to increase COVID vaccines and treatment supplies by enacting a waiver of WTO monopolies, requiring technology transfer and funding increased global production,” said Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “The imminent Rome G20 summit provides President Biden a powerful opportunity to avert the endless pandemic cycle we now face by exerting strong leadership to remove the WTO’s obstacles to ending the pandemic with a final waiver deal by the November 30 WTO Ministerial. The world has the technical, the medical, the financial means to vaccinate the world and end the pandemic and Pres. Biden needs to lead his G20 colleagues in making the political choice to do so.”

“As COVID-19 continues to destabilize our world, take lives unnecessarily, and increase economic turmoil, we urge governments with companies that make vaccines to facilitate vaccine technology transfer to low and middle-income countries so that we can save lives globally. We will not stop until all have access to life-saving vaccines,” said Joyce Ajlouny, General Secretary with the American Friends Services Committee.

“A small number of pharmaceutical companies have control over our vaccines yet they can’t produce enough to vaccinate the world. Worse yet, they are prioritizing their own profits by artificially constraining the supply and always putting their rich customers at the front of the line. Enough is enough. The only way to end the pandemic is to share the technology, and know-how with other qualified manufacturers so that everyone, everywhere can have access to these lifesaving vaccines,” said Robbie Silverman, Senior Manager for Private Sector Engagement at Oxfam America.

“Pharmaceutical companies have been fighting the TRIPS waiver tooth and nail for over a year now, with too many wealthy countries around the world taking their side and protecting pharma profits instead of supporting the TRIPS waiver to save lives around the world,” said Matthew Rose, Director of U.S. Policy & Advocacy at Health GAP. “These stall tactics are inexcusable as five people die every minute from COVID-19 when life-saving vaccines exist. President Biden must use his power to build consensus on the TRIPS waiver now – no more deadly delays.”

Mary Novak, Executive Director of NETWORK said: “Pope Francis, evoking the image of the Good Samaritan, has called for a transformation of hearts and minds in reaction to the COVID pandemic that has laid bare the heart-breaking realities of social inequalities afflicting people globally. There is no greater example of a “culture of indifference” than wealthy countries hoarding vaccines for their citizens, while denying access to treatments and vaccines to those living in the Global South. People are dying because pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. and Europe refuse to share the vaccine to protect their profits.

I echo the words of Pope Francis: ‘I ask everyone in the name of God… I ask all the great pharmaceutical laboratories to release the patents. Make a gesture of humanity and allow every country, every people, every human being, to have access to the vaccines.’”

The video (full video linked here) comes as the world’s richest countries continue to have the highest vaccination rates, middle- and low-income countries have been forced to face a devastating surge of Delta variant cases with little to no vaccines available to their population. In order to slow down the devastation and spread of the Delta variant and deadlier variants, Congress and Biden must strip Big Pharma of their monopoly control so every country can vaccinate a majority of their people.

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