“I’m just a vaccine” pushes for COVID-19 vaccine equity and access

Schoolhouse Rock spoof urges for COVID-19 vaccine equity and access 

Video aims to encourage sharing of the vaccine recipe and overhauling the current patent system

MAY 24, 2021--WASHINGTON, D.C.--Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just A Bill” has provided a much-needed civics lesson for generations in the U.S. Today, the Free The Vaccine for COVID-19 campaign has remixed the cartoon to educate all on the vaccine research and development (R&D) process as well as the monopolies that have created distribution bottlenecks and aided in preventable deaths around the globe. “I’m Just A Vaccine” is encouraging all to take a stand and demand more from the American government and its allies. 

“I’m Just a Vaccine,” like its predecessor (1976), educates and appeals to all with a catchy beat. We know vaccines save lives and must be available to everyone no matter where they live in the world. But, unfortunately, monopoly agreements enabled by our current for-profit patent system socialize the risk of development by using public funds for the vaccine research but then allowing pharmaceutical corporations to privatize the profit through monopolies that prevent access. In the cartoon, the biomedical R&D system is synthesized to explain why a people’s vaccine free of intellectual property rights and other restrictions is necessary for curbing the virus and ending the pandemic. 

Produced by Free The Vaccine for COVID-19 volunteers Dannie Synder, Daria Bazzi, and Heloise Widdig, the video is one of many creative projects working vigorously to change the R&D system, which make it a herculean feat to make much-needed medical treatments and medicines readily and freely available to all. Free The Vaccine for COVID-19 is a collaboration between Universities Allied for Essential Medicines and the Center for Artistic Activism. Its goal is to ensure that tax-payer-funded coronavirus vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics are sustainably priced, available to all, and free at the point of delivery. 

“So many folks know the clever song ‘I’m Just a Bill,’ and so they know how a bill transitions into a law, so why not use the same tune to teach Americans about the pipeline of creating a vaccine?” says video co-producer Dannie Snyder, Free The Vaccine participant. Snyder adds,” Indeed, the video is fun because it works: not only is it iconic and thus easily identifiable, but it also contains accessible language about this highly technical issue, thus empowering everyday people with the correct layman’s terms.” Sharing vaccine patents, technology, and know-how will save countless lives and is being discussed at the World Trade Organization, but what about at the family dinner table? Many people don’t understand just how flawed our R&D and distribution process for medications is, and if they do, they’re not sure how they can help change the system.

As a result of pressure from a coalition of groups, including the Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 campaign, the Biden Administration recently announced its support for negotiations of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver for COVID-19. Going forward, it is critical that the administration keeps its promise and continues to show global leadership to end the pandemic by supporting technology transfer and the scale-up of manufacturing of the vaccine around the world. No one should be restricted from healthcare, especially during a deadly global pandemic. 

To view the video, click here.

 

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About Free The Vaccine for COVID-19 is a global campaign launched by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) and the Center for Artistic Activism, working to ensure that tax-payer funded coronavirus vaccines are sustainably priced, available to all, and free at the point of delivery. Launched in March 2020, it has concluded its third cohort of participants from over 30 countries. To learn more, go to freethevaccine.org. 

About Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) Universities Allied for Essential Medicine (UAEM) is celebrating 20 years of student activism and advocacy in the global and domestic fight for health equity and justice in access to medicines. UAEM is rooted in a global movement of university students in 20 countries and aims to (1) promote access to medicines and medical innovations where barriers exist primarily by changing norms and practices around academic patenting and licensing, supported by our own independent research, (2) ensure that university medical research meets the needs of people worldwide and actively supports the creation of new needs-based approaches to R&D, and (3) empower students to respond to the biomedical access and innovation crisis by advocating for the most promising global biomedical R&D system that works for all. http://www.uaem.org

About the Center for Artistic Activism is a non-profit organization transforming the practices of art and activism, helping activists, artists, organizations, and foundations be more effective and effective in bringing about social change. To learn more, go to c4aa.org.