Amid ongoing concerns about the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus crisis and corporate control and profiteering, a coalition of progressive groups on Wednesday renewed the demand for a "people's vaccine" and announced a rally for next week touting the potential medication as a "critical health step toward global health equity."
"Our best chance of staying safe is to ensure a Covid-19 vaccine is available for all as a common good," organizers say in a call to action.
Set for October 21 outside the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., the socially distanced event is dubbed "Mourn, March, and Movement for a People's Vaccine."
Organizers include Free The Vaccine for Covid-19, Public Citizen, Right 2 Health, Spaces in Action, and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), with other groups including Social Security Works and Health GAP backing the mobilization. The rally is set to take place a day before the next FDA hearing on October 22, 2020 focused on the development and authorization of potential Covid-19 vaccines.
Trump wants an untested vaccine to be rushed through before election day. We can’t let that happen.— Peter Maybarduk (@Maybarduk) October 14, 2020
We need a tested, safe vaccine — and it must be available to all.
Join us for a rally in DC on October 21st to demand a #PeoplesVaccine:
The groups are demanding that a future coronavirus vaccine be shown to be safe and effective and be produced through widespread sharing of knowledge and technology in order to guarantee the vaccine is accessible to all.
That's not the path being pursed by the White House, say organizers. They explain:
WE'RE FIGHTING AGAINST the Trump Administration using an unproven and unsafe vaccine to steal the election • Global vaccine apartheid in which high income countries buy their way to the front of the line and leave the world's poor behind • White House maneuvers to undermine science and contradict respected experts at FDA, CDC, WHO, and NIH.
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Indeed, the Trump administration has faced sustained criticism for pushing for pre-Election Day approval of a coronavirus vaccine in an apparent political effort, and has embraced a "herd immunity" approach health experts condemn.
President Donald Trump has also refused to participate in the international vaccine pact called Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access led in part by the WHO, spurring outrage from developing countries.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres took an indirect jab at Trump last month, saying, "To think that we can preserve the rich people, and let the poor people suffer, is a stupid mistake."
Meanwhile, an Oxfam analysis released last month showed that a handful of rich nations representing a mere 13 percent of the world's population have bought up more than half of the promised Covid-19 vaccine doses.
The "Mourn, March, and Movement" rally announcement follows vocal demands for a so-called people's vaccine from former global leaders, health experts, and groups like Oxfam.
In a statement last month, Chema Vera, interim executive director of Oxfam International, called on companies to "share their knowledge free of patents and to get behind a quantum leap in production to keep everyone safe."
"We need a people's vaccine," said Vera, "not a profit vaccine."