A People’s Vaccine Now
END THE PANDEMIC WITH A PEOPLE'S VACCINE NOW
As long as COVID-19 exists anywhere in the world, it is a threat everywhere. But, in spite of our shared risk, the world’s richest countries have exercised a “me first” approach to the COVID-19 vaccine, buying up more than half the total supply – with grave consequences for the world’s poor.
Under the current system, some countries may not receive their vaccines until the year 2024. The risk of prolonging the pandemic for another three years – and the potential for even more variants to emerge – would be dire.
What we are witnessing now is nothing less than the ongoing inequality crisis playing out through vaccine access. The disastrous consequences of rising inequality – while certainly not new – are impossible to deny in the COVID-19 crisis. Decades of progress in poverty-reduction are at risk – we must act now to ensure everyone can be vaccinated. Simply put, equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines is an urgent matter of justice – and an equally urgent matter of public health.
At the root of this inequity is the simple fact that Big Pharma is prioritizing profits over people’s lives. No single company can produce enough vaccines for everyone who needs them – and the quickest way to increase supply is to share vaccine know-how and technology with generic drug manufacturers. This could create a dramatic improvement in the volume and pace of vaccine delivery – and bring an end to the pandemic for everyone. But without pressure from governments, we know Big Pharma will not voluntarily give up their monopolies and the massive profits they stand to make from the pandemic.
Over the past year, Canada has made large contributions to the global fund in charge of distributing vaccines to poor countries. Despite good intentions, this charity approach is not enough. In fact, many countries at the World Trade Organization are now leading the charge to waive intellectual property rights and patents on COVID-19 vaccines. This initiative is currently supported by more than 100 countries – but not Canada. The Canadian government should champion a People’s Vaccine – and join other countries in demanding that we put lives before the profits of Big Pharma.
Please add your voice now.