Petition: Support the widest possible access and affordability of Covid-19 vaccines for the whole planet

As the Omicron variant shows, we are not safe until the whole world 
has access to vaccines.  It’s clear that poorer countries will have to wait
years to access the treatment and protect their 
people.
Some rich countries have started to boost their populations with a fourth
dose of the vaccine, whilst there are vulnerable people in poorer countries
still waiting for their first jab.

This disparity is alarming. For the majority of people in the Global South,
the virus and now, it seems, the vaccine, are refracted through legacies
of colonialism, public services decimated by IMF-enforced austerity
programs, and supply chains embedded in a global economy that replicate
imperialism. The United Nations estimates that nearly half of all jobs in Africa
 could be lost, while Oxfam calculates that the virus’ economic impact is
pushing half a billion people into poverty.

This pandemic came to a world already in crisis, compounding climate
catastrophe, economic sanctions and border regimes, pharmaceutical
greed, and privatised health systems built to serve a tiny elite.
Precarious workers and the marginalised suffered most, even as
reactionary politicians around the world found new vocabulary to
demonise migrants and minorities for the ills of the pandemic.

If indeed the Covid-19 vaccines are to end the pandemic, we know what
needs to happen: 60% of the world must be inoculated to achieve herd
immunity. Yet we continue to act as though any one country can end the
crisis alone by repeatedly thwarting attempts at global solidarity,
coordinated action, and ultimately, international justice.

A few weeks after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global
pandemic, the Costa Rican President proposed setting up a Technology
Access Pool to facilitate voluntary sharing of health technology,
intellectual property, and data. This was inimical to pharma companies’
bottom line and discarded with little fanfare by their ruling protectors.

A few months later, its successor, the COVAX Facility
for vaccine distribution – an effort to subsidise vaccines for
developing countries – seemed promising but its clear its even failing to meet
its lowered targets for vaccinating populations in the Global South.

And now, almost two years in, the richest countries, including
the UK, are still opposing a proposal at the World Trade Organization to waive
intellectual property barriers to aid a swift and just Covid-19
response. Even as the people in the UK receive their third doses of the
vaccine, it joined the rich bloc in voting against the proposal, dooming
large swathes of the world to contend with the pandemic alone. Big
pharma’s executives retained their profits.

We call on the UK government to reverse its opposition to widely available and
affordable vaccines for the world’s poorer nations and to work with
countries like South Africa and India through the WTO to ensure big
pharma’s mega profits aren’t more important that global health.