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Article

14 May 2021

Author:
UN Aids,
Author:
Oxfam,
Author:
The People's Vaccine

World leaders unite in call for a people’s vaccine against COVID-19

'World leaders unite in call for a people's vaccine against COVID-19', 14 May 2021

GENEVA, 14 MAY 2020—More than 140 world leaders and experts, including the President of South Africa and Chair of the African Union, Cyril Ramaphosa, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, the President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall and the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo have signed an open letter calling on all governments to unite behind a people’s vaccine against COVID-19. The call was made just days before health ministers meet virtually for the World Health Assembly on 18 May.

The letter, which marks the most ambitious position yet set out by world leaders on a COVID-19 vaccine, demands that all vaccines, treatments and tests be patent-free, mass produced, distributed fairly and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge.

Other signatories include the former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, the former President of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, the former United Nations Development Programme Administrator and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark.

They join notable economists, health advocates and others, from the Chair of the Elders and the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, Nobel Laureate, Joseph Stiglitz, to Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr John Nkengasong, Director of African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dainius Puras, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

“Billions of people today await a vaccine that is our best hope of ending this pandemic,” said Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa. “As the countries of Africa, we are resolute that the COVID-19 vaccine must be patent-free, rapidly made and distributed, and free for all. All the science must be shared between governments. Nobody should be pushed to the back of the vaccine queue because of where they live or what they earn.”

“We must work together to beat this virus. We must pool all the knowledge, experience and resources at our disposal for the good of all humanity,” said Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan. “No leader can rest easy until every individual in every nation is able to rapidly access a vaccine free of charge.”

The letter, coordinated by UNAIDS and Oxfam, warns that the world cannot afford monopolies and competition to stand in the way of the universal need to save lives...

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