In reaction to today’s global COVID summit hosted by President Biden, Oxfam America’s President and CEO, Abby Maxman, made the following statement:
“Today’s summit was full of speeches but tragically lacking in action. While we commend President Biden for rallying world leaders to commit to vaccinate 70% of the world by this time next year, we have yet to see an effective plan to meet this goal.
“Charity won’t win the war against the coronavirus. While every additional life-saving vaccine dose is welcome, the 500 million additional doses President Biden just committed are still a drop in the bucket compared to the urgent need across the world.
“President Biden and leaders of rich countries should listen to what leaders from developing countries are asking for: the rights and the recipe to make their own vaccine doses.
“In their remarks to the summit, the leaders of South Africa and India highlighted a proposal by more than 100 countries at the WTO to waive intellectual property restrictions so that those countries can produce their own vaccines for their own citizens. But almost none of the rich country leaders today addressed that proposal, including President Biden.
“People around the world are suffering: 99% of people in Yemen today are unvaccinated while facing a deadly third wave of COVID-19. This is on top of already experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
“President Biden announced his support for the WTO proposal in May, but instead of leading, his administration has largely stayed on the sidelines of the negotiations. During that time, more than 1 million people around the world have died from COVID.
“The bottom line is that we cannot vaccinate 70% of the world with the same tools that have vaccinated only 1% of Africa so far.
“Now is the time to waive intellectual property barriers, end vaccine monopolies, and mandate the sharing of vaccine technologies and know-how. Now is the time to invest in vaccine research and development and manufacturing capacity in developing countries, and to continue to reallocate existing vaccine doses. Anything short of this does not constitute a plan. We need a people’s vaccine now.”