“People are dying, Joe”: Critics call Biden’s vaccine-sharing plan “woefully inadequate”
The White House ad Thursday his plan to donate 25 million excess doses of Covid-19 vaccine to other countries – a progressive plan described as an “inadequate” response to the ongoing pandemic, urging the Biden administration to invest $ 25 billion to increase global vaccine manufacturing.
According to he Associated press, the United States “aims to share 80 million doses worldwide by the end of June, mostly through COVAX,” the United Nations-backed program for global vaccine sharing. “Of the first 25 million doses, the White House has said about 19 million will go to COVAX”, with the remaining 6 million going to “American allies and partners.”
“The donation of these few doses is welcome but deeply insufficient, and does not replace a scale and emergency plan to end the pandemic”, Peter Maybarduk, director of the Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program, mentionned in a report. “The United States needs to do more, a lot more.”
PrEP4All, an organization of people who have been personally affected by the HIV epidemic and who are fighting for universal access to life-saving medicines, recalled President Joe Biden that “people are dying”.
While the virus has officially has claimed the lives of nearly 3.7 million people worldwide to date, the World Health Organization (WHO) valued recently, the true death toll from Covid-19 has been between six and eight million people.
Despite billions of dollars that could be used to boost vaccine manufacturing and increase the rate of inoculation around the world, the Biden administration “barely used any,” PrEP4All said.
Maybarduk agreed. “The US contribution to global vaccine access has been woefully insufficient to date,” he said. “Every day of delay means more lives lost.”
Progressive rented Biden last month after approving the Indian-South African-led motion at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to suspend Big Pharma’s coronavirus-related patents for the duration of the pandemic.
While Biden on Thursday reiterated its support for the temporary lifting of intellectual property barriers to increase the production of tests, treatments and vaccines, the proposed waiver of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ( TRIPS) is still in progress blocked by a handful of countries, mostly rich countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and members of the European Union.
At the same time as Canada, the UK and the EU are artificially phasing out the global supply of vaccines in opposite the TRIPS waiver, these rich countries have “signed agreements to obtain hundreds of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots over the next two years”, the the Wall Street newspaper reported Wednesday.
Meanwhile, impoverished nations desperate for saving gunfire have been said to trust on COVAX – which depends on donations from the same countries gobbling up enough doses to last until 2023 – even though public health advocates have stress that the UN-backed program is unable to meet global needs.
“The idea that this pandemic is being dealt with by a mixture of charity from rich countries and goodwill from business is such nonsense,” Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice UK, mentionned in response to news on the latest iteration of vaccine hoarding.
Currently, of the more than two billion vaccines administered worldwide, only 0.3% went to the arms of people living in low-income countries, with people in high- and middle-income countries receiving 85 % of doses, according to the New York Times. Vaccination rates in North America (62%) and Europe (49%) are much higher than in South America (29%), Asia (24%), Oceania (13%) and Africa (2.5%).
This manifestation of global inequality, which critics have called “vaccine apartheid,” intensified the spread of Covid-19, particularly in South Asia, Latin America and Africa. If current trends continue, experts say, most people in the Global South will not be vaccinated until 2024, giving the virus a greater chance of mutating, endangering the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world.
To avoid such a deadly delay, Maybarduk said, “the White House should quickly specify ambitious global production targets and help lead the international community in favor of vaccine manufacturing.”
Welcoming Biden’s decision on Thursday to raise defense production law ratings for multiple vaccines, Maybarduk said the “Biden administration is at least deviating from the path of global scale.”
“Now we need the Biden administration to use similar power to speed up the supply of raw materials to the world,” he added.
As Common dreams reported, a coalition of more than 60 progressive rights groups, led by Public Citizen, has called Biden will establish a global vaccine production program to end the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for future ones.
Last week Public Citizen described how an investment of just $ 25 billion, or roughly 3% of what the United States spends annually on its military, would be enough to set up regional manufacturing centers to produce eight billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine in less than a year.
“The US government,” Maybarduk said Thursday, “is expected to invest $ 25 billion in urgently manufacturing public vaccines at sites around the world to manufacture eight billion doses of mRNA vaccine within a year and share these vaccine recipes with the world “.