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!
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!
The last few months have been exceptionally fast-paced, furious and focused. With the arrival of Covid-19, UAEM has adapted in a number of ways in the last few months. Many of our student volunteers returned home from their university campuses and began online classes. Our European Conference, scheduled in April, was cancelled and our plans to participate in the World Health Assembly were postponed.
Yet, Covid-19 also gave us increased purpose and even more motivation to pursue our work to make medicines accessible to all. We adapted our in-person organising to be online, using all the digital tools within reach to make our voices heard. We are more active than ever with increasing numbers of students reaching out to UAEM with a desire to be part of this fight to end the pandemic. In response, UAEM organized globally and adapted our global campaign to tackle Covid-19.
In March, in conjunction with the Center for Artistic Activism, we launched the Free the Vaccine for Covid-19 campaign with 300 registered participants from 29 countries organizing weekly via online meetings. Our goal is to ensure that publicly-funded diagnostics, therapeutics and the eventual vaccine(s) will be 1) sustainably priced 2) available to all (regardless of insurance or immigration status) and 3) free at the point of delivery. We have already received coverage from the BBC, NewsNight, the New Republic, Stat News and more.
We are currently targeting 50 universities to adopt the Open Covid Pledge and are advancing quickly. In 2 decades since our first victory at Yale University we have achieved policy change at 32 institutions but what we are pushing for now is unprecented. We can't wait to share results in the coming weeks. You can receive instant updates signing up at www.freethevaccine.org
A few weeks ago we also launched our Covid-19 tracker tool monitoring public funds invested into universities leading research into Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Our global team of students worked tirelessly to research, analyze and deliver this new tool that currently covers 13 countries around the world. Doctors without Borders has already commended our work and shared with us how they intend to use the tool for their own advocacy. It will continue to be updated in the coming months.
The last two weeks have also born witness to the US protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN and the uprising around the world taking force behind the movement for Black Lives. As an organization that works to make medicines affordable and accessible around the world, we are deeply aware of the role racism plays in creating and deepening health inequities and disparities. To be health activists we must also be committed to social justice, equality, freedom, equity, and respect. The fight for access to medicines is above all a fight for the most vulnerable among us, and a just healthcare system is one in which Blacks have equal access to the medicines they need to live, survive, and thrive. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted black communities as a result of the social, economic and political systems that perpetuate harm against black people.
Our work at UAEM stems from the basic belief that health is a human right. Additionally, our mission, vision, and values statement reflect our ongoing work and dedication to “non-partisanship, democracy, transparency, solidarity and respect". You can read UAEM North America's statement here.
We hope you are staying well and safe, wherever you are.
Thanks for your continued support, in these uncertain times, it is more important that ever.
On February 7th to 9th UAEM North America hosted its annual leadership meeting (NALM) in our Washington DC offices. The NALM is always an opportunity for our student leadership team, board and staff to come together to reflect on progress and work to set goals for our current campaigns as well as team build. Several rising leaders from the network also joined us along with some special guest appearances from our Brazilian ED and a visiting team mate from Colombia.
The student teams visited key legislative offices to educate policymakers on our university-driven campaigns to make medicine affordable - including our transparency in clinical trials campaign - only 15 of 40 leading universities were in compliance with the law in 2019 and could subject to massive fines per trial of $10,000. Currently there are over $7 Billion USD worth of unclaimed fines by the FDA. Timely clinical trial reporting helps researchers avoid creating duplicative studies and guards against fraud and reporting bias, in which scientists selectively publish “successful” results only. Clinical trial transparency accelerates medical progress for new treatments, improving understanding of treatment efficacy and safety, ultimately contributing to improved access to medicines and better health outcomes. UAEM is working to hold universities accountable. We already have plans underway to share the latest progress of universities and laying out steps to get them back on track.
Our Xtandi campaign at UCLA continues to advance with ongoing meetings with UCLA leadership. Our broad goal is to urge the University of California system to adopt a new licensing policy that would better protect access to and affordability of the publicly-funded medicines developed on campus. Many of the UAEM UCLA team joined us in DC to share the latest critical updates and learnings from the broader leadership community.
Overall the weekend was a joyful and hopeful event - over too quickly but energizing for the fight ahead! We look forward to sharing critical updates soon.
A sincere thank you to everyone who hustled to support UAEM for #GivingTuesday! UAEM officially scored a hat-trick by placing second out of more than 4000 organizations on GlobalGiving for the third year in a row for the most number of unique donations (and placed 35th overall for overall giving). We raised $16,897 in total with just over $10K coming from direct donations from people like you - so thank you! A special shout out is well deserved for our UCLA student chapter who raised over $1000 via more than 100 donations. A new chapter record!
In the adrenaline-filled final minutes we pushed to secure our place and the bonus prize of an additional $3k that will support our student-driven advocacy campaigns in 2020 - a critical year. You can read all about our current North American campaign progress in our latest UAEM North America newsletter linked below.
Thanks again for helping us achieve this victory. And if you weren't able to give yesterday, our end of year campaign began yesterday so there's still time to support us from wherever you are in the world. Your donations will go to support student-driven campaigns to make publicly-funded developed on university campuses accessible and affordable for all. As a grassroots network of students, every single donation counts for us - as the difference between 2nd and 3rd place showed - there were only 8 donations in it - check out a snapshot of the leaderboard for our category!
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.