In response to the announcement by United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai that the Biden administration supports a waiver of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, the following statement is attributable to Michele Heisler, MD MPH, medical director at Physicians for Human Rights and professor of public health and internal medicine at the University of Michigan:
“We applaud the Biden administration for its decision to support an intellectual property protections waiver for COVID-19 vaccines and now ask them to stand strong in this position and see it through upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations.
This is a major first step in the process of sharing vaccine technologies and know-how more broadly to support global vaccine access and the human right to health.
We now need further commitment from President Biden and other world leaders to invest in the scale of manufacturing and technology sharing that will truly make COVID-19 vaccines freely available to everyone, everywhere, as soon as possible.
Given the global health catastrophe we face, COVID-19 vaccines should be considered global public goods and delivered free of charge everywhere. Equitable global vaccine access and distribution is both a public health and an ethical imperative. The current stark vaccine inequalities around the globe are unacceptable, unnecessary, and dangerous, given the rise of new variants. Global leaders from government and industry must find the will to make COVID-19 vaccines available to all.”
Physicians for Human Rights advocates for COVID-19 vaccine equity and is a member of the People’s Vaccine Campaign, a global movement of health and humanitarian organizations, past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders and economists calling for COVID-19 vaccines to be freely available to everyone everywhere – a global common good.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.