In response to today’s announcement that the US Trade Representative is supporting waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, Abby Maxman, Oxfam America’s President and CEO, made the following statement:
“President Biden and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai have recognized that Pharma’s ‘business as usual’ is killing us. In this moment of crisis, we applaud their willingness to pursue a new path that prioritizes public health over private profits.
“Today, we celebrate the momentous decision by President Biden and his administration to engage with the rest of the world to pull down all barriers standing in the way of everyone everywhere getting access to COVID vaccines.
“This is a testament to the widespread public movement calling for an end to vaccine monopolies. It is also a testament to an administration that listens and is willing to do whatever it takes to defeat COVID-19.
“Over the past year, nurses, doctors, Nobel Laureates, former heads of state, artists, economists, public health activists and more than two million people from around the world have rallied together to call on President Biden to reassert the US’s moral and public leadership on the world stage. Today President Biden answered that call.
“We are at a crucial inflexion point in the fight against the coronavirus, yet we have remained essentially at the mercy of a handful of giant pharmaceutical corporations that have monopoly control over the life-saving technologies we all need. This may now begin to change.
“Loosening the monopoly grip that pharmaceutical companies have on these life-saving vaccines is an essential step toward increased manufacturing that would lead to worldwide immunization, helping the US and everyone else. We will now look to the White House for leadership in a strong WTO outcome, in urgently insisting on the transfer of technologies through the World Health Organization Covid-19 Technology Access pool, and in investing strategically to build up regional vaccine hubs to defeat this and future pandemics.
“The horrific situation in India is a warning to all of us that if we don’t move urgently to share the vaccine technology and scale up manufacturing so everyone, everywhere can have access to these lifesaving vaccines, we will never get the upper hand on COVID anywhere.”