WASHINGTON, D.C. April 13, 2021 – Public Citizen and 65 other global health, development and humanitarian organizations today called on President Joe Biden to announce and implement a global vaccine manufacturing program to end the pandemic and build a globally-distributed vaccine infrastructure for future pandemics.
“Much more ambitious U.S. leadership is needed to end the global pandemic,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “The U.S. government should establish, urgently, a manufacturing operation for the world, that would share vaccine recipes and work with the World Health Organization to alleviate suffering and bring billions of additional vaccine doses to humanity.”
The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a movement of health and humanitarian organizations, has endorsed the letter. Some of the largest U.S.-based international groups, FHI360, International Rescue Committee, Helen Keller International and International Medical Corps, as well as advocacy organizations including RESULTS and PrEP4All, have also signed onto the letter.
The letter noted the only way to get the pandemic under control is to immediately ramp up vaccine production across the world. The group requests Biden announce a new manufacturing program in his fiscal year 2022 budget and help produce billions more vaccine doses within one year. The U.S. can do so for about $3 a dose, a fraction of the cost of inaction, according to the coalition. Without a global manufacturing plan, the economic costs to the U.S. alone could be between $800 billion to $1.4 trillion in 2021 alone.
The letter comes ahead of a fundraising conference Thursday, hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, for the COVAX facility which is dedicated to increasing equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“Given the increasingly connected nature of today’s world and the risks that we consequently share, it is vital that we act proactively and decisively to address those risks,” said Nancy Aossey, president and CEO of International Medical Corps. “The U.S. has the intellectual and financial resources necessary to help lead this initiative, working across borders with other governments, and with international health agencies, to end this and future pandemics.”
“Vaccine donations alone won’t end the pandemic,” said Abby Maxman, Oxfam America CEO. “The commitments planned for COVAX are critically important, and yet entirely inadequate to meet global need. Without urgent new manufacturing commitments, billions of people may wait years for a vaccine.”
The groups added that the U.S. government should not only expand production in the U.S. and abroad, but also work with the World Health Organization (WHO) to set up production hubs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. These hubs would democratize production and improve global health security, particularly if they are accountable to the public and equipped with adaptable technologies, such as mRNA platforms, that could help defeat the next pandemic.
“The U.S. government has helped produce hundreds of millions of vaccine doses for people living in the U.S., on a relatively short timeline. The same is needed—and within reach—for all countries,” Maybarduk added. “The key missing ingredient is ambitious political leadership, to end the pandemic for everyone, everywhere.”
Statements from additional signers are below:
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a generational leadership challenge that requires global solidarity and bold policy solutions. President Biden has an opportunity to provide visionary leadership in the form of an ambitious, unwavering funding commitment that will support a global response the size and scale that matches the scope of the pandemic itself. Flat funding won’t put the world on track to recovery. The U.S. must not be timid in the midst of colliding pandemics.”
- Matthew Rose, Director of U.S. Policy and Advocacy, Health GAP
“We will only end infections and deaths from COVID-19 if we achieve global herd immunity through a vaccine that is free, accessible, and available to everyone, everywhere. PHR urges the Biden administration to support the dramatic increase in global vaccine production necessary to make this public health and human rights imperative a reality. Now is the time to act boldly by investing in global manufacturing capacity and technology sharing.”
- Michele Heisler, MD, MPA, Medical Director at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)
“Scaling up of public manufacturing of mRNA vaccines is the surest way to bring this pandemic to an end. In a public health emergency that kills 10,000 people a day, we need bold action from the Biden administration, not just rhetoric.”
- James B. Krellenstein, Co-Founder of PrEP4All
“After 19 agonizing days in a crowded hospital in India, my grandmother died of COVID-19. Thinking about her last moments in isolation haunts me. We simply cannot afford to delay life-saving vaccines and allow this virus to take more lives. I am afraid for the health of my 89-year old grandfather, who continues to be at high-risk of COVID-19. Without action from the Biden Administration to ramp up global vaccinations, my grandfather will not get the vaccine till 2024. Millions more will die. The pandemic will not be over anywhere until the virus is stopped everywhere.”
- Tulika Singh, Right to Health Action State Captain
“The only way to close the unacceptable vaccine equity gap for COVID-19 is to ensure there is open sharing of relevant knowledge and technology and major financial support for increased production of COVID-19 vaccines in and for Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The U.S. government has a tremendous opportunity – and a unique responsibility, given the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that went into vaccine R&D – to help guarantee equitable access for all.”
- Rachel M. Cohen, Regional Executive Director of DNDi North America