On Human Rights Day, PIH Calls for Support of People's Vaccine
Join the movement for a free, widely available COVID-19 vaccine
Posted on Dec 10, 2020
On Human Rights Day, December 10, governments are convening at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to discuss whether to suspend patents and other barriers on medical tools dedicated to COVID-19 response. International human rights law understands intellectual property to be a social construct that cannot interfere with health and other rights, and this measure is key to increasing access to treatments and vaccines so people around the world can be protected from the virus. Unfortunately, the United States, the European Union, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, and Canada are all blocking this waiver.
Partners In Health, together with Oxfam, Public Citizen, and other organizations, has argued to the U.S. government for a People’s Vaccine, which would be free and available to all. The decision taken on December 10th will reveal national commitments to an international order based on universal human rights, which depends upon recognizing that our own humanity is bound up with that of others across the world.
The U.S. Trade Representative must make the right decision in support of suspending patents and other barriers that would prevent an equitable response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the incoming Joseph R. Biden administration can demonstrate much-needed global leadership by mobilizing greater resources for expanding access to vaccines and therapeutics), using provisions in existing legislation to share knowledge and technologies related to COVID response, and strengthening manufacturing and distribution of treatments and vaccines in the Global South.
These measures are imperative not just for specific vaccines or for this pandemic, but for future pandemics the world will inevitably face. These structural injustices systematically deprive people around the world of lives of dignity and are incompatible with the realization of universal human rights.