Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Larissa Vuitika, biologist, works during the virus inactivation process on March 24, 2020 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Larissa Vuitika, biologist, works during the virus inactivation process on March 24, 2020 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo: Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)

140+ Global Leaders Call for Free "People's Vaccine" to Put Human Lives Above Corporate Greed in Fight Against Covid-19

"Diplomatic platitudes are not enough—we need legal guarantees, and we need them now."

Andrea Germanos

Over 140 global leaders and experts on Thursday issued an open letter urging world powers to guarantee that both a coronavirus vaccine and any treatment for Covid-19, when available, be free for everyone in order to put the "the interests of all humanity" ahead of those of the wealthiest corporations and governments.

The new letter, "Uniting Behind a People's Vaccine Against Covid-19," is signed by current and former heads of state including Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan and former Irish President Mary Robinson as well as other notable figures including former United Nations special rapporteur Philip Alston and economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

"Faced with this crisis, we cannot carry on business as usual," Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand, said in a statement. "Diplomatic platitudes are not enough—we need legal guarantees, and we need them now."

The global call comes days ahead of the World Health Organization's World Health Assembly. At that virtual meeting, scheduled for Monday, the letter signatories say health ministers must remember the WHO's founding principle to help achieve "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being."

The letter calls on the World Health Assembly to "forge a global agreement that ensures rapid universal access to quality-assured vaccines and treatments with need prioritized above the ability to pay." 

"Now is not the time to allow the interests of the wealthiest corporations and governments to be placed before the universal need to save lives, or to leave this massive and moral task to market forces," says the letter. "Access to vaccines and treatments as global public goods are in the interests of all humanity. We cannot afford for monopolies, crude competition, and near-sighted nationalism to stand in the way."

The letter says that health ministers should learn from the successes and failures in global efforts to tackle HIV, Ebola, and AIDS and hammer out an agreement with three key pillars: mandate worldwide sharing of Covid-19 information and technologies; roll out a rich nation-funded vaccine and technologies distribution plan; and guarantee free vaccine, treatment, and diagnostics with priority going towards front-line workers and the most vulnerable communities.

"Only a people's vaccine—with equality and solidarity at its core—can protect all of humanity and get our societies safely running again," the letter says. "A bold international agreement cannot wait."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Chief Urges Global Solidarity on Covid, Climate, and Debt Relief

"The last two years have demonstrated a simple but brutal truth, if we leave anyone behind, in the end, we leave everyone behind," said the secretary-general at the opening of the virtual Davos summit.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sinema's MLK Day Tweet Sparks Online Fury

One group criticized the Democratic senator from Arizona as "the white moderate MLK warned us about."

Andrea Germanos ·


Why Did Democratic AG Kill Flint Water RICO Case?

"Political corruption poisoned Flint and political corruption shielded the wrongdoers from accountability," said one critic following new revelations.

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Counter Cherry-Picked Quotes With MLK's True Legacy

Calling out those who have "weaponized" his words "to justify legislated white supremacy," Rep. Ayanna Pressley said King "was a radical dreamer with a bold vision for revolutionary change."

Jessica Corbett ·


'No Celebration Without Legislation': King Family Leads Voting Rights March

"I will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father's dream," said Martin Luther King III.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo