Activists push to “free the vaccine”

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (WDVM) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge in other parts of the world, Americans are coming together to demand action from United States leaders. Dozens came together on the National Mall on Wednesday, May 5, to get the attention of President Biden.

“Free the vaccine” rang out at the mall, as the rest of the crowd cheered in agreement.

One of the speakers for the event, Paul O Brien with Amnesty International, said, “The vaccine that could save tens of millions of lives, that may be the world’s most important currency at this moment; And that currency is being controlled by a very small number of corporations.”

Peter Maybarduk with Public Citizen explained, “We are calling on President Biden to launch a vaccine manufacturing program urgently for the world.”

Public Citizen is among other groups that organized the event at the mall. The organization is part of 63 others that sent the President a letter, urging him to invest $25 billion in vaccinating the world.

Maybarduk explained, “It’s actually a very small amount of money compared to the damage that’s already been done and will be done if we don’t vaccinate the world because that’s what puts the world back to work.”

Along with the investment, the groups are demanding the United States pave the way for other countries to begin manufacturing vaccines.

Maybarduk said, “If we make that technology available to everyone everywhere if we help governments and other manufacturers learn how to make the vaccines and if we invest in new manufacturing capacity, the world can produce vaccines faster.”

The event went beyond chanting, holding signs and sending letters. There was also a personal display of names and photos of people who were lost to COVID-19.

Rosie Davis, the founder of the Yellow Heart Memorial, said, “We wanted to be the face of why this needs to happen because those portraits up there, they’re not only from the United States, they’re from all over the world.”

The display was directly in front of the United States Capitol and served as a small symbol of the pain that is felt worldwide, and what the group wants to prevent moving forward.

“The people voted for Joe Biden because he promised to put COVID at the forefront of everything and that is part of it. You don’t just take care of your own country. You take care of countries that are in crisis as well,” Davis said.

“Every day that we delay is a day more that people die, jobs are lost and the pandemic doesn’t end. So, we have to act more ambitiously now,” Maybarduk said.

The group left the event with a renewed sense of hope and optimism as the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai, announced the United States is entering into negotiations for the TRIPS Waiver at the World Trade Organization as the event wrapped up.

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