A message by the Agora of the Inhabitants of the Earth on world’s failure to provide universal and free COVID-19 vaccine
There is an urgent need to remedy the catastrophic moral bankruptcy of an unjust world in which vaccines and health are not guaranteed to all the inhabitants of the Earth.
On Monday 18 January, the Director-General of the WHO declared forcefully and courageously: ‘The world is on the brink of catastrophic moral bankruptcy’. He denounced the world’s rich and powerful states and the global pharmaceutical companies for not fulfilling the commitments they made back in March to provide access to vaccines and anti-Covid19 treatments for all, ‘leaving no one behind’, as they proclaimed in unison.
Even before the vaccines were designed, the world’s 15 richest countries (about 14% of the world’s population) had purchased from private companies, well positioned in the patent race, 60% of the estimated doses available in 2021 to provide vaccines to their populations, leaving 40% of the doses for the remaining 86% of the world’s population. Only 30% of the world’s population is expected to be vaccinated by 2021. Guess which one? 39 million doses of the first two patented vaccines (USA) were distributed in 49 rich countries, while in the world’s poorest country the doses were …25! In Israel, more than 20% of the population has been vaccinated (more than 2 million people), but only a very small part of the Palestinians (mainly prisoners!).
It is no longer just a question of national selfishness, of the priority given to “national security”, of a feeling of fear in the face of danger or of the greed of the rich. It is a deliberate policy of denying the majority of the world’s population a universal right. It is an outright violation of the social contract between the inhabitants of the Earth. We are faced with a domination, of the world of finance and a predatory power of the powerful. All this in the context of a ‘warlike’ alliance between the current public powers of the weakened, crumbling states on the one hand, and the private powers of the world’s powerful financial, industrial and military oligarchies on the other. Just think of the barely concealed ‘contempt’ of the two allies for Chinese, Russian and Cuban vaccines…!
Health for all depends on breaking this alliance and building an alliance between citizens, between all the inhabitants of the Earth.This latter alliance is also invoked in his Christmas speech on 25 December by Pope Francis when he stated that ‘we cannot put the ‘laws’ of the market and of patents above the right to life, the right to love’. This is a fundamentally important statement that stands in stark contrast to one of the central pillars on which today dominant economy rests, namely ‘the market society’ (and commodification of. all forms of life)
The Agora of the Earth Inhabitant call on the movements and associations committed in the defense of the universal rights to justice, equality and fraternity, to fight with ever greater conviction and determination for the pursuit of three concrete immediate objectives:
- Citizens must oblige the states of the richest countries to allow any country to apply compulsory licensing, i.e. to suspend patents on vaccines and medical treatments in order to promote and preserve the right to life for all citizens. Yes, to peoples’ vaccines and vaccines as global public goods: No, to the ‘right’ of absolute sovereignty of private companies over knowledge and life technologies. Knowledge is a common public good of humanity, the ‘heritage’ of all the inhabitants of the Earth. The waiver of patents must lead in the medium term to the abolition of patents. No, to competitiveness for the survival of the strongest and most aggressive.
- Citizens must obtain from their states a profound reorganisation of health care finance, so that public money is no longer used to pay pharmaceutical companies at least twice (during design and development, then again during the production and marketing of drugs and vaccines) and ,thus, to feed corporate profits and speculation.. Without citizens’ money, Western multinationals would not have developed Covid19 vaccines. There is an urgent need to stop the theft of public money. Public finance at the service of the rights and responsibilities of human communities must regain primacy over private finance, which serves the interests of the most powerful social groups. The state must once again become a ‘res publica’ at the service of the common good and not remain at the service of the of financial health of the corporate interests.
- Citizens must demand that states implement a cooperative global emergency vaccination plan (within the framework of a common global public health policy) under the aegis and coordination of the World Health Organisation (WHO), freed from the grip of the large multinationals and ‘big’ states. In the field of the right to life, yes to the primacy of the WHO and the UN over the WTO and the World Bank. This primacy implies making major changes, for example, to the role of COVAX (GAVI, CEPI, Gates Foundation…), a typical instrument of the autocratic alliance between the richest states and the most powerful multinationals. We also need to rethink the role of the Security Council. There is an urgent need to create a Citizens’ Security Council for global public goods (water, health, knowledge, in particular).
Even before the vaccines were designed, the world’s 15 richest countries (about 14% of the world’s population) had purchased from private companies, well positioned in the patent race, 60% of the estimated doses available in 2021 to provide vaccines to their populations, leaving 40% of the doses for the remaining 86% of the world’s population (source: Pixabay, CC0)
This article was published on 27 January 2021 on the Italian site The Other News.
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The Agora of the Inhabitants of the Earth is a global civil society organisation, which promotes Humanity as a subject of international relations, as well the transformation of knowledge, water and other vital resources into global public goods (commons). The founder of the Agora is the Bruselles-based Italian economist Riccardo Petrella – a former adviser in the European Commission of Jacques Delors, who was also a prominent opponent to the transformation of the EU into “union of competition” – a reform spurred by Delors.