Call for guarantees that COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, tests and treatments will be provided free of charge to everyone, everywhere, in an open letter coordinated by UNAIDS and Oxfam
More than 140 world leaders and experts have signed an open letter calling on all governments to unite behind a people’s vaccine against COVID-19. The call was made days before a virtual health ministers’ meet for the World Health Assembly on May 18, 2020.
The letter demands that all vaccines, treatments and tests be patent-free, mass-produced, distributed fairly and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge.
The letter, coordinated by UNAIDS and Oxfam, cautions that the world cannot afford monopolies and competition to stand in the way of the universal need to save lives.
The leaders recognise that progress is being made and that many countries and international organisations are cooperating multilaterally on research and development, funding and access, including the $8 billion pledged on May 4, 2020, at the European Union’s international pledging marathon.
However, as many countries and companies are proceeding with unprecedented speed to develop an effective vaccine, the leaders are calling for concrete commitments to ensure that it is made affordable and available to all as soon as possible such as:
- A mandatory worldwide pooling of patents and sharing of all COVID-19-related knowledge, data and technologies in order to ensure that any nation can produce or buy affordable doses of vaccines, treatments and tests.
- The rapid establishment of an equitable global manufacturing and distribution plan for all vaccines, treatments and tests that is fully funded by rich nations and which guarantees transparent ‘at true cost prices’ and supplies in accordance with need rather than the ability to pay.
- This would include urgent action to massively increase manufacturing capacity to produce the vaccines in sufficient quantities and train and recruit millions of health workers to distribute them.
- A guarantee that COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests are provided free of charge to everyone, everywhere, with priority given to frontline workers, vulnerable people and poor countries with the least capacity to save lives.
The distinguished signatories of the letter include Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa and Chair of the African Union; Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President of the Republic of Ghana; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico; Helen Clark, former United Nations Development Programme Administrator and former Prime Minister of New Zealand. Notable economists, health advocates and others, from Mary Robinson, the Chair of the Elders and the former President of Ireland; Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate to Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; Dr John Nkengasong, Director of African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention; and Dainius Puras, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health have also signed the letter.