Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!

by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines Corp
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Free the Vaccine for Covid-19!
Sharing is caring!
Sharing is caring!

Sharing a brief update on the latest action to fight for global equity in access to vaccines!

On Thursday, April 28th, activists from Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 in conjunction with partners and advocates from People's Action, Health GAP and others gathered in Boston in front of the pharmacutical corporation Moderna to fight for a people’s vaccine. This was the day of the Moderna shareholders meeting at which Moderna’s profits were to be announced. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to rage in the Global South, an inequitable and vastly insufficient global vaccination effort threatens the lives of people around the world, including in the United States. Moderna generated over 6 billion USD in revenue for the first quarter of 2022 and made $12 billion in profits in 2021. 

Students, politicians, doctors, lawyers, and individuals from all different walks of life came together to share their stories and demand that Moderna put people over profit. The number of deaths from COVID-19 are now estimated to be over 15 million according to the World Health Organization and despite high income nations trying to open up, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still rising in many parts of the world. None of us are safe until all of us are safe.

Moderna holds the power to greatly increase access to the vaccine  and decrease the burden of Covid-19 by sharing the science and sharing the intellectual property rights to produce the vaccine. Activists rallied for three days, where they participated in actions to increase the pressure on Moderna. Actions included marching from Galaxy Park to Moderna Headquarters, calls to the CEO of Moderna, leading teach-ins, calls to individuals with power to share the wealth,  a vigil, and much more. The efforts brought attention to the urgency of the situation and the call to action given to Moderna in doing its part to end the pandemic and our "Sharing is Caring" carebears made they own appearance again!

Onwards!

Boston Moderna Protest
Boston Moderna Protest
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Vaccinate the World Rally in DC, October 28, 2021
Vaccinate the World Rally in DC, October 28, 2021

We are pleased to share that our fourth season of our Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 campaign kicked off two weeks ago! This season's cohort intentionally includes a much smaller group of activists engaging in targeted work over a period of just 8 weeks. In past seasons, we made headlines with our DC rallies, starting with our first Funk Rally in October 2020 demanding global access to a safe and effective people's vaccine, and the second where we got to announce that the US Government would support negotiations on the TRIPS Waiver. We even got Senator Bernie Sanders to join the team in advocating to free the vaccine! Of course there is so much campaigning work ahead to reach our goals but we're delighted to be back in our advocacy labs together! This season, our focus is to continue to advance goals towards the global accessibility of the publicly-funded NIH-Moderna vaccine. The Biden administration continues to drag its feet when it comes to using all the tools in its power to increase global access to COVID-19 medicines made with our taxpayer dollars. Throughout these weeks, we are developing our messaging through a series of artistic prototypes to change the conversation surrounding the Moderna vaccine and increase pressure on both Moderna and the Biden Administration to "share the recipe" and curb the pandemic for everyone, everywhere. Our Free the Vaccine Care Bears also got to make an appearance at a recent rally ahead of the G20 (because Sharing is Caring!). The action was led by our allies at Peoples Action including an all night vigil outside COVID-19 Czar Jeffery Zients who has not done enough to ensure access the vaccine. The protest made Democracy Now - check it out here and follow us on social media for more regular updates!

As always, thanks for your support! None of us are safe until all of us are safe!

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We're in White Coat Rebels!
We're in White Coat Rebels!

I am delighted to share that a new documentary “White Coat Rebels” directed by Greg Barker was released via AFI Docs yesterday and will be shown this evening at the theatre in Silver Spring as part of the AFI Documentary Film Festival. The film follows a committed group of medical students, doctors, and activists who battle the structural inequalities of America’s health care system, in which their physicians’ oath to “do no harm” is challenged by the insidious power of the global pharmaceutical industry.  The organizing work of Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 features towards the end of the film which began shooting in 2019 and ended with the rise of COVID19 in the USA. The film follows two members of our UAEM student community in particular Neda and Gloria. More details here

You can stream the film directly from your home for the next several days. We hope you will join us in supporting it.

AND, in case you missed it, a note to let you all know that on May 5th, during our rally on the National Mall, we were able to announce that the Biden Administration would support negotations on the TRIPS Waiver. Thank you for helping us keep the pressure on! Footage from the rally, including part of the speech from Free the Vaccine project manager and UAEM student Maanasa Gurram was captured in this mini-documentary released by The Intercept. It's 15 minutes long and features a number of our allies and friends. If you're still asking questions about the Waiver and the fight to Free the Vaccine, this video should help answer your questions.

As the US opens up and here in DC vaccination rates locally hit 60% of residents who have received at least one dose of the vaccine the statistics around the world offer a very different picture. The situation in many parts of the globe is concerning. In the African continent the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 are almost 40% higher than the week before according to the World Health Organization. We need vaccine equity now.

Please show your support with a donation to our campaign, we hope to launch a new cohort of volunteers to #FreeTheVaccine in the Fall but we can only do so with your help.

In solidarity,

Check us out in Teen Vogue!
Check us out in Teen Vogue!

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Open Meeting
Open Meeting

On April 8th 2020 we held our first organizing calls with 300 participants from 29 countries. A year later we've seen over 700 people come through the campaign, we've targeted over 50 universities and we became one of the founding organizations of the People's Vaccine - a continually growing movement supported by Nobel Prize Winner Muhammed Yunus and groups like UNAIDS. Even Bernie Sanders joined our virtual rally on March 10th!

Read about what three Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 participants, Rachel, Dannie and Sernah shared about their experience with the campaign over the past year.

"In the year that I’ve been involved with Free the Vaccine, I’ve had my outlook on activism and organizing transformed"

"I’ve learned there is no one way to build power or reach advocacy goals. That realization was liberating, and has enabled us to welcome hundreds of people from various backgrounds into our campaign".

If you'd like to learn more and hear from some of our team you can join us on April 23rd and can register here at: bit.ly/FTVopenmeeting2 

See you soon!

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Funk Rally in DC - Photo: Nicolas Moreland
Funk Rally in DC - Photo: Nicolas Moreland

As UAEM chapters across Europe have been leading activities for Access to Medicines Week, our labs at Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 campaign continue to push towards their goals to ensure universities are doing everything within their power to curb the pandemic. In light of recent news, we thought it critical to mention a few take-aways with regard to the latest vaccine news.

While we acknowledge the reports from pharmaceutical corporations including Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna that their vaccines appear to be more than 90% effective, which is encouraging, we also know that a vaccine will not be able to do its job if people cannot access it,  afford to pay for it or are afraid to take it. Furthermore, unless scientists are able to fully review the data, we will not yet be able to determine the vaccine’s true efficacy and safety long-term. The data for the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is the only group so far to publish data in a scientific journal and doesn't require an extra-cold chain for storage which is more promising for ensuring access in rural or resource poor areas.  

Earlier this year our Free the Vaccine team was invited to join Oxfam, UNAIDS and other organizations to be part of their "People's Vaccine" campaign.  Our shared call for a "People's Vaccine" that "belongs to the world" to echo the words of Jonas Salk, the scientist who discovered the polio vaccine at the University of Pittsburgh, is critical to ensure people and populations are not left behind in terms of access to a vaccine, especially one that is publicly-funded. The US government for example funded 100% of Moderna’s project to bring the vaccine to the U.S. FDA for approval. Taxpayers have also already paid twice since the Trump administration paid Moderna an additional $1.5 billion to secure doses in advance. Further, the Pfizer vaccine was made in partnership with BioNTech, a German drug company that received €375 million from the German government in public funds, amongst other tax relief.

A few weeks ago our Pittsburgh lab led a set of creative actions inspired by Jonas Salk to urge the University to follow Dr Salk's lead. Dr. Salk's refusal to profit from the vaccine saved thousands and thousands of lives. The message seems to be working as the Lab has recently held promising meetings with university leadership who are concerned about this issue and keen to engage further. Similar discussions are happening across other university campuses urging their institutions to be on the right side of history with regard to who will get access to a vaccine,  treatment or test developed in their labs. 

In Latin America, fake news around covid-19 and health technologies to face it have been playing an important role on the population's perception about the importance of a vaccine. UAEM Latin America, for the first time as a region, is currently investigating how citizens in different Latin American countries feel about the covid-19 vaccines efficacy, safety, importance and if they think price and access will be an issue. The region accounts for 1 in every 3 deaths from covid-19 in the world. However, according to Oxfam, rich countries where 13% of the global population live have bought, in advance, 51% of the doses of the vaccine candidates. That is why an initiative as the TRIPS waiver proposed by South Africa and India, which prevents rich countries from threatening countries struggling to ensure access to vaccines and other health technologies in terms of intellectual property rights, is so important. While Argentina is supporting the initiative, Brazil is not - despite the country's historically diplomatic role in advocating for the defense of the right to health over intellectual property rights. A letter written by some Brazilian civil society organizations, including UAEM Brasil, and signed by more than 65 entities and 1.4 thousand citizens calls WTO's member states and the global community to support the waiver.

As the work continues, don't miss out all that is going on creatively -  swing by our UAEM instagram page and our online art exhibit with all the creations coming out of the campaign.

Stay safe, stay well! 

PS Don't forget to mark your calendars for next Tuesday December 1st - World AIDS Day and Giving Tuesday! We will be competing for the most number of unique donations! Join us and help support for the fight for global equity in access to medicines!

Salk's demand
Salk's demand
The ghost of Jonas Salk
The ghost of Jonas Salk
Funk Rally in Washington DC Photo: Timoteo Murphy
Funk Rally in Washington DC Photo: Timoteo Murphy

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Universities Allied for Essential Medicines Corp

Location: Washington, DC - USA
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Twitter: @uaem
Project Leader:
Merith Basey
Washington, DC United States
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