Friday, May 20, 2022
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With a lot of the world yet to be vaccinated, protesters demand that the technology be shared.

Scattered demonstrations around the globe on Friday seeking to waive intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines punctuated the second anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaring the contagion a pandemic.

In addition, more than 130 world leaders, economists, humanitarians, scientists and other prominent global figures called for an end to vaccine monopolies, releasing an open letter pushing to rapidly vaccinate middle-income and poor countries.

“Sadly, despite what some leaders in wealthy countries would like us to believe, the pandemic is not over,” the letter said, in part. “But it is within our grasp to end it and ensure everyone is protected. That requires giving everyone, everywhere access to safe and effective vaccines and other lifesaving Covid-19 technologies.”

The letter was organized by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a global coalition of 90 groups, and signed by the current leaders of Finland, Tanzania, and many former officials, like the U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon. Celebrities like Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, and the actress Charlize Theron also joined the call.

Top U.S. health officials said last week that they intended to begin offering low- and middle-income nations access to the technology developed by government scientists that might be used to prevent or treat Covid-19. They did not say which technologies would be licensed and whether Moderna’s vaccine, which was developed in partnership with N.I.H. scientists, would be included. Moderna is locked in a patent dispute with the government.

Protesters, who took to the streets in Lower Manhattan, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Spain and the Philippines, among other places, want the United States and the European Union to immediately waive intellectual property rights that they say slow vaccine production.

Vaccination rates continue to lag in low-income countries, where only 14 percent of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. In high- and upper-middle-income countries, 79 percent of the population has received at least one dose.

The United Nations-backed program to vaccinate the world against the coronavirus, known as Covax, has delivered 1.4 billion vaccine doses to 144 countries, according to the latest data from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

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