In response to President Biden’s participation in the G7 leader’s meeting and commitments he made on global vaccine access, Niko Lusiani, Senior Advisor with Oxfam America, made the following statement:
“In his first international summit, it is clear that President Biden is seeking to re-establish the US as a good global citizen and work collaboratively to address global problems by re-joining efforts like the Paris Climate Agreement. Real solutions to inequality, poverty, and injustice can only be found by working together for shared progress.
“Coming back to the table is indeed a clear first step, but now President Biden and his administration must work to shoulder our country’s fair share of the collective responsibility.
“President Biden's commitment to global vaccine access is a positive signal that his administration clearly understands that we all will gain by ensuring everyone on our connected planet is protected from this virus and its variants.
“His rapid injection of $2 billion into COVAX will go a long way to empowering countries to access vaccines this year. But this money will go even further if the US and other donors insist on clear transparency and affordability conditions to understand the terms of the COVAX contracts and to ensure the lowest prices possible. We can’t let this become just another blank check to Big Pharma.
“While welcome, we are all coming to understand that COVAX alone will not do anywhere near enough to ensure vaccine to all people. At best, it will leave out 80% of people in poorer countries this year. Rich country charity and vaccine donations are not sustainable solutions to the vaccine problem and will not fix the real barriers to addressing the vaccine inequality crisis.
“That’s why the additional $2 billion the President committed to vaccine manufacturing and delivery is so critical to going beyond a fight over supply to actually expand it. We can act now to build out regional vaccine development and production hubs across the world which will boost overall supply, lower prices and allow for rapid response to emerging variants.
“Only a truly global mobilization of vaccine production to rapidly scale-up the total number of low-cost doses available will get the job done. President Biden and his G7 counterparts should seize on this historic opportunity to mobilize vaccine access to all by insisting that vaccine producers to share their technology and know-how, and building capacity for vaccine production and distribution around the world. This includes supporting the WHO’s Coronavirus Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) as well as a proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights for all COVID-19 vaccines under the TRIPS agreement.
“As the pandemic has had devastating economic impacts, President Biden must also work with the other G7 leaders and multi-lateral institutions to ensure that the impacts of COVID on the global economy do not lead to further humanitarian catastrophe. It is critical that the President’s push for further economic stability at the G7 meeting are matched by US contributions to the global response in the COVID relief bill he is working to pass through Congress in the coming weeks.”