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Today, the People’s Vaccine Alliance is launching #StopPlayingGames, a global campaign using the power of sport and the platform of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to demand that world leaders launch an urgent and ambitious plan for equitable, universal access to COVID-19 vaccines. The Alliance is calling on world leaders to live up to the Olympic ideals of solidarity and act immediately to end vaccine apartheid.
Tokyo 2020 is taking place during a global pandemic that has killed 4 million people, sickened almost 200 million, and destroyed the livelihoods of billions more. With spectators banned and dozens of participants testing positive for the virus, it will be impossible to ignore the impact of the pandemic on the Games and on our world.
“We are in the race of our lives, but it’s not a fair race, and most countries have barely left the starting line,” tweeted WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Thirty-three wealthy countries have now exceeded a 50% vaccination rate, while only 1% of people in low-income countries have received even one dose of a vaccine. South Africa, Kenya and other countries in Africa are experiencing devastating third waves of infections. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies report tens of billions of dollars in revenue from sales of vaccines developed with public funding.
This crisis is the direct result of political decisions by leaders of wealthy nations, who hoard vaccines and booster shots while billions of people wait, potentially for years, for their first dose. President Joe Biden, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President Emanuel Macron and other first world leaders have the means to bring about universal vaccination, save lives and begin the global economic recovery.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance and our partners worldwide are calling on leaders of wealthy nations to #StopPlayingGames and:
- Immediately launch a global manufacturing plan to increase and democratize vaccine production capacity through regional hubs and prepare for future pandemics;
- Share the recipes and technology for publicly funded vaccines; and
- Adopt the TRIPS waiver to suspend WTO intellectual property rules for vaccines, diagnostics and treatments.
Throughout Tokyo 2020, the People’s Vaccine Alliance and our supporters will:
- Share our video (releasing July 23) and other content featuring people around the world telling their stories of lack of vaccines, especially in the Global South;
- Participate in the #StopPlayingGames Challenge, engaging athletes and supporters to post videos telling their leaders to #StopPlayingGames and vaccinate the world now;
- Call public attention to vaccine inequity and what our leaders must do about it; and
- Circulate our petition from U.S. partners calling on Biden to launch a global vaccine manufacturing plan.
Throughout the Games, @PeoplesVaccine and our partners will share videos, graphics and other content about vaccine inequity. We will mobilize our supporters around the world to share these resources, sign the petition and participate in the #StopPlayingGames Video Challenge.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling on leaders of wealthy nations to fulfill the Olympic values of non-discrimination and solidarity. Stop Playing Games. Start Saving Lives. Vaccinate the World Now.
“Global leaders like President Biden cannot ignore the deadly pandemic and gross inequalities in vaccine distribution that are the backdrop of the Olympics this year,” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. “They must share vaccine technology and invest in scaled-up manufacturing to produce billions more doses in order to end vaccine apartheid.”
View our campaign landing page here.