Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has seen over 150 million cases and more than 3 million casualties. It has consequently been causing social and economic crises around the world. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges the world to unite and VOW to "Vaccinate Our World" now.
Wealthy countries, the G20 in particular, and global financial institutions must raise their contributions to support struggling countries, and all COVID-19 vaccine patents must be waived or suspended for humanity and the global good. Worldwide vaccine production must rapidly increase to ensure equitable access for people worldwide, rich or poor. The VOW campaign will be introduced at news events organized in prominent metropolitan cities around the world, namely Bangkok, Nairobi, Abuja, Johannesburg, London, São Paulo and Washington, D.C.
Asia Bureau Chief of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Dr. Sarath Chhim, said although the COVID-19 situation in some wealthy countries tend to be better, many low and middle-income countries still face difficulty in handling new waves of the pandemic such as India which is now in a crisis with over 300,000 new cases daily in the past week and the death toll that has already hit 200,000.
“We believe that the only way to stop this crisis is to provide vaccination globally as fast as possible. According to the data, almost 90% of the more than 700 million vaccines administered globally went to high-income or upper-middle-income countries. But low-income countries received only 0.2%. The world must unite together to call upon leaders from the G20 and global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to VOW to step up their contributions immediately. Also, vaccine patent must be waived in this time of crisis and production must speed up to catch up with the pandemic and cover the world’s population. Only can we do this will we all be safe," said Dr. Chhim.
In response to the epidemic in Thailand, the country has been trying its best to secure vaccines for the Thai people. According to Dr. Sophon Mekthon, Assistant to the Minister of Public Health and the member of the National Public Health Reform Committee, “The COVID vaccination program in Thailand has been carried out as planned. As of 3 May, over 2 million does have been administered to people throughout the country with a focus on frontline healthcare workers. Our goal is to vaccinate at least 70% of the people by the end of the year. This will be supported by three health schemes including the civil servant medical benefit, the social security benefit and the universal health coverage”. To effectively respond to the situation, Dr. Mekthon added that “the whole of government and the whole of society approaches are key to ending the COVID-19 epidemic”.
Director of Thai National Vaccine Institute Dr. Nakorn Premsri reiterated on the necessity of vaccination and cited the recent information spread through social media about the side effects of the vaccines which caused concerns among some people and made them hesitant to get vaccinated. He insisted that getting vaccine is absolutely better than not getting it as it helps boost immunity and lessen severity of symptoms. “Although to receive a vaccine is voluntary, I encourage everyone to take it as responsibility to build their immunity so together we can swiftly end the pandemic”, the National Vaccine Institution Director said and added that the government has ordered 63 million doses of vaccines and would distribute them all by the end this year. “The government is considering other alternatives as well so we can achieve 100 million doses”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Mr. Apiwat Kwangkaew, mentioned about any significance of waiving or halting patents of vaccines or antiviral drugs that to solve the COVID-19 situation, we need to set two goals. The first is prevention - to prevent new cases by using vaccines and secondly, treatment - to reduce the death rate by using antiviral drugs which requires the proper management. The patent system must not stand in the way of affordable access to vaccines and medicines. Policymakers must realize this and review all related laws and regulations. If they pose hindrance for access, they must be rapidly amended.
“The global community must pay attention to the intellectual property system and not allow it to impede the people’s healthcare. Drugs and vaccines are not luxury goods but are one among the basic needs. They are the moral goods needed for survival. Policymakers must be brave enough to revoke patents or to issue the Compulsory Licensing for medicines for which patents still exist in order to allow equal and sustainable access to the medicines and vaccines for the people,” said Mr. Kwangkaew
The Thai singer & actor Mr. Matthew Dean who had a near-death experience as a COVID-19 patient in March last year told that once he learned he had contracted COVID-19, he swiftly checked himself into the hospital where he was hospitalized for a month. While physical suffering was apparent, mental suffering was worse he feared he might have spread the virus to his family members. He went through a month of treatment away from his family and loved ones, a month without a hug from those he missed dearly. “I want to encourage everyone to follow safety measures, always wear a mask, wash your hands every time before touching your face and please avoid traveling especially to crowded areas. I don’t mean to scare anybody but just want you all to live your life carefully and don’t lower your guard.” He was the first celebrity to call upon the public to be cautious of the perils COVID-19 could bring and to live their lives carefully.
Here are two powerful analysis of why it is important to waive or suspend the patent of COVID-19 vaccine:
1. Will President Biden keep his promise to share vaccine IP at the upcoming WTO meeting on 5 May 2021? Watch this video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YgpHdCjIrQ
2. Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, urges that Intellectual Property must serve the global good, rather than humanity serving the interests of a few private companies. And in the case of COVID-19, the global good is not in doubt: rapid worldwide immunization, in order to save lives, prevent the emergence of new variants, and end the pandemic. Read the full article: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/covid19-intellectual-property-waiver-is-a-moral-imperative-by-jeffrey-d-sachs-2021-04.
Join us to end the COVID-19 crisis and learn more about our campaign at VaccinateOurWorld.org Spread the word and encourage others to VOW now by tweeting and posting these messages on social media: "If the immorality of vaccine rationing doesn't bother you, the grave danger that it poses to the world should.” #VaccinateOurWorld #VOWnow #AHFThailand