In response to the US Food and Drug Administration’s expected emergency approval Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s COVID-19 vaccine, Niko Lusiani, Senior Advisor with Oxfam America, made the following statement:
“After half a million lives lost in the US and nearing 2.5 million worldwide, scientists have delivered a third tool in our vaccine toolbox and even more hope for our fight against the coronavirus. Now policy makers and corporate executives must do their part.
“JNJ’s vaccine will be a valuable instrument against the pandemic because it is a lower cost, single-dose vaccine that comes with corporate commitments to ensure increased access around the world.
“But no one company can produce enough vaccines to make sure everyone, everywhere gets a shot at life, a shot at recovery. That’s why every COVID-19 vaccine must be a People’s Vaccine: patent-free, mass produced, distributed fairly based on need, and made available free of charge, to every individual, rich and poor alike.
“JNJ’s vaccine was largely funded by the public, so it must be a public good. While JNJ’s commitments to a low-cost pandemic price are encouraging, the corporation could be a true world leader in the struggle against COVID by committing to keep its vaccine price at-cost after the pandemic, and sharing its vaccine knowledge, technology, intellectual property, data and know-how to urgently boost global supply.
“A People’s Vaccine, mass produced by qualified manufacturers around the world, is the only way we can make the greatest number of doses in the shortest amount of time and ensure access for everyone.
“Over 60 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States, yet 130 countries have not gotten to administer a single dose of any vaccines. That’s why more than 220 US leaders from the fields of public health, medicine, global development, and racial justice, joined faith leaders, economists, Nobel laureates, former members of Congress, and artists to sign a public letter calling on President Biden to champion a People’s Vaccine for COVID-19 -- a public good that is freely and fairly available to all, prioritizing those most in need at home and around the world. President Biden has a special opportunity to replace the narrow vaccine nationalism of the recent past with the global vaccine solidarity of the future.”
Notes to editors:
The public letter to President Biden is available here. Signers of the letter include philanthropists Abigail Disney and Chelsea Clinton, singers Gloria Estefan and Sara Bareilles, actors Alyssa Milano, Aisha Tyler, Forest Whitaker, Mark Ruffalo, and Bradley Whitford, Nobel laureates Sir Richard J. Roberts, Muhammad Yunus, and Joseph Stiglitz, professors Noam Chomsky, Philip Alston, Henry Richardson, Amy Kapczynski, John Ruggie, Darrick Hamilton and Dani Rodrik, as well as activists Kristin Urquiza and Ady Barkan. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and former members of Congress Lynn Woolsey, Mary Jo Kilroy, Claudine Schneider, and Sander Levin also signed.
Renowned epidemiologist Arthur Reingold joined Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health, Peter Hotez, Director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital; and Vanessa Kerry, Director of the Program in Global Public Policy and Social Change at Harvard Medical School and CEO of Seed Global Health; along with a who’s who of public health experts from around the United States. Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights; Oscar Chacon, Executive Director of Alianza Americas; and Carol Bellamy, former Executive Director of UNICEF, also lent their names to the effort.
Oxfam is part of the Peoples’ Vaccine Alliance, which is calling for all COVID-19 vaccine developers to openly share their intellectual property, technology and know-how to enable the mass production of successful vaccines all over the world. The call for a People’s Vaccine is backed by past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders and economists. For more information visit: https://peoplesvaccine.org