Vigils Held Coast-to-Coast Calling for Global Access to COVID Vaccines & Treatments

Activists Voice Support for a Fast & Comprehensive “TRIPS Waiver” Needed to Increase Global Production of Vaccines & Medical Supplies

For Immediate Release June 2, 2021

Contact: Arthur Stamoulis, (202) 494-8826 or media@citizenstrade.org

 

San Francisco, Calif. — Activists across the United States are gathering at U.S. federal buildings and foreign consulates starting today for a series of vigils remembering those who have died from COVID-19 and calling on governments worldwide to support a speedy and comprehensive intellectual property waiver needed to increase global production of COVID vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. The vigils come just days before a major June 8-9 international meeting where governments will discuss such a waiver.

“While Americans increasingly have widespread access to COVID vaccination, huge numbers of people around the world aren’t expected to have access to a vaccine for years unless global production is dramatically increased,” said Arthur Stamoulis of Citizens Trade Campaign. “We commend President Biden for supporting a waiver of intellectual property rules for COVID vaccines, and urge him to continue that leadership by pushing for a fast, comprehensive final agreement that translates into getting shots into people’s arms as quickly as possible.”

From today through Sunday, vigil attendees in San Francisco, Seattle, Tucson, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Albany, New York and elsewhere will be reading the names of loved ones lost to COVID-19, lighting candles, and holding moments of silence. Carrying signs reading “Delay = Death,” they are also demanding that governments take action next week to finalize a global measure that would enable greater production of the vaccines and other medical supplies needed to help save millions of lives and end the pandemic.

At roughly half of the events, organizers will deliver letters to foreign consulates calling on countries to support an emergency waiver of “Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights” (TRIPS) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that was first introduced by India and South Africa that would enable COVID vaccines and treatments to be produced in more locations. The waiver proposal, which is supported by the Biden administration and over 100 other nations, will be discussed at the WTO’s TRIPS Council meeting on June 8 and 9.

“The governments of Germany, Brazil, Australia, Japan and Colombia are some of the last holdouts against a global agreement to waive intellectual property rights so that COVID vaccines, diagnostics and treatments can be produced in as many places as possible as quickly as possible,” said Will Wiltschko, director of the California Trade Justice Coalition. “We’re visiting their consulates because every day of delay on the TRIPS waiver means more needless death, more families pushed into poverty and greater chances of a viral mutation that can evade current vaccines and start the pandemic all over again for everyone.”

“Over 12,000 people are dying of COVID every day,” said George Kimball, who organized the vigil in Albany. “The idea that any country would prioritize pharmaceutical companies’ profits over saving as many lives as possible and ending this pandemic is an outrage. Governments need to get together and approve the TRIPS waiver now.”

Vigils were organized by the California Trade Justice Coalition, Center for Popular Democracy, Citizens Trade Campaign, Health GAP, Justice Is Global, Metro New York Health Care for All, New York Trade Justice Coalition, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Texas Fair Trade Coalition, Washington Fair Trade Coalition and others. A complete list of events is online here.