In response to concerns over the spread of a new COVID-19 variant, Oxfam America’s Robbie Silverman, Senior Manager of Private Sector Advocacy, made the following statement:
“The Omicron variant affirms what many of world's leading scientists, public health officials, doctors, nurses, and economists have been saying since the beginning of the pandemic: if we do not vaccinate the world as quickly as possible, COVID will continue to threaten us all.
“But instead of taking action to make sure everyone and our economy is protected, our political leaders have protected the private profits of a handful of Big Pharma billionaires. The litany of repeated failures, empty promises, blown deadlines, and misguided 'charity' over the last 20 months would be farcical if the consequences weren't so deadly serious.
“Since the start of the pandemic, developing countries - led by South Africa - have pleaded for the ability to manufacture their own vaccines for their own citizens. Fueled by racism, neo colonialism, me-first hoarding, and plain old greed, rich countries have refused.
“Our leaders’ failure to help bring the vaccines to everyone, everywhere will keep us on a cruel and never-ending cycle of illness, death, and economic suffering. Omicron must be the wakeup call. We need President Biden to lead in negotiating a comprehensive TRIPS waiver at the WTO and press for the sharing of all vaccine technologies immediately. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”