The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Joe Karp-Sawey, Senior Media Advisor:

WHO COVID-19 declaration: World “doomed to repeat the mistakes of this pandemic” without structural change


Responding to the WHO’s declaration that the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency of International Concern is over, Dr Mohga Kamal-Yanni, Policy co-lead for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said:

“COVID-19 may no longer be classified as the highest level of international emergency, but the virus has not gone away. There are billions of people in developing countries who still cannot access affordable COVID-19 tests and treatments. They need action from governments to remove the intellectual property barriers that prevent the widespread production of generic medicines.

“Rich countries behaved shamefully in this pandemic, upholding pharmaceutical monopolies and grabbing vaccines, tests and medicines for their people, pushing developing countries to the back in the line. And pharmaceutical companies are the biggest winners, achieving the biggest profit from a single medical product in history, while people died without access.

“The institutions set up to support developing countries, like COVAX and ACT-A, failed to involve developing countries in their creation or decision-making, and failed to deliver an equitable response. For future pandemics, preparation and response must be led by the Global South, instead of creating more global platforms dominated by donors.

“People in developing countries should never again wait for the ‘good will’ of rich countries, nor charitable actions of pharmaceutical companies. The world needs transformative commitments in the Pandemic Treaty and International Health Regulations to ensure knowledge and technology are shared, remove intellectual property barriers, and to support medical research and manufacturing in developing countries.

“Just as with HIV, the global response to COVID-19 failed the world’s most vulnerable, prioritising windfall profits ahead of public health. World leaders must now learn from the last three years, and make structural changes in global health. Or else, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of this pandemic in the next.”

The People’s Vaccine Alliance is a coalition of over 100 organisations and networks, supported by Nobel Laureates, health experts, economists, Heads of States, faith leaders and activists, working together towards equitable access to medical technologies that help to prevent and respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics.