Petition: U.S. Must Share COVID-19 Vaccine Technology

Unlocking vaccine production is a human rights issue

Posted on Feb 10, 2021

A protester holds a sign that says People's Vaccine
Supporters of the People's Vaccine participate in a day of action protest in the Kendall Square neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is known for its concentration of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Photo by Zack DeClerck / PIH.

For COVID-19 to be stopped, every village, city, and country must have access to lifesaving vaccines. But these vaccines aren’t being manufactured fast enough, despite the fact that drug companies around the world have the capacity to produce the billions of doses needed.

Standing in the way are the corporate monopolies held by a handful of U.S. drug-makers. But the United States government has the power to compel these companies to share the knowledge so desperately needed to ramp up global production. It would just take some political bravery to do so.

Unfortunately, business as usual is already costing lives. Wealthy countries have bought up the bulk of vaccine doses that have been produced so far. And as poorly as the vaccine rollout is going in wealthy countries, it is nearly nonexistent in middle- and low-income countries—as of January 18, only 25 total doses had been administered in one lowest-income country.

With the stroke of a pen, President Joseph R. Biden could break corporate monopolies, enable the sharing of know-how, and unlock vaccine manufacturing in the U.S. and around the world. Such an executive order would mandate that U.S. companies share vaccine technologies, while being compensated for each dose produced under license. And it would make these vaccine technologies available to drug-makers around the world through the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool.

Partners In Health is urging President Biden to take action, joining calls from global health leaders—including Dr. Anthony Fauci—and organizations around the world. The push comes as part of PIH’s ongoing advocacy for global, equitable vaccine distribution. In December, PIH joined the growing movement calling for a People’s Vaccine—a vaccine that is free and accessible to everyone.

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