Make Vaccines and Diagnostic Tools for COVID19 Developed with Public Funding in America Available to All

Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health, Xavier Becerra, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and members of the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Response Team:

As students, individuals, and organizations who are collectively dedicated to promoting public health and ensuring access to medicines for all, we are concerned about access to diagnostic tools, treatments and vaccines for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The United States (U.S.) has made  significant public investment into accelerating research to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In January 2021, Dr. Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and one of the most widely trusted scientific leaders guiding the public since the onset of the pandemic, remarked, “the world has to pull together. We have to have a commitment of cooperation, collaboration and solidarity, so that everybody in the world has access to vaccines. As long as you have the virus circulating in countries with high population and low healthcare and low accessibility to vaccine the virus is going to continue to evolve.” Currently, over 30,000,000 Americans and 128,000,000 people worldwide have tested positive for COVID-19 with over 562,000 confirmed deaths in the US and over 2,800,000 deaths worldwide. It has been over 12 months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic, and these numbers are continuing to climb. With the remarkably high number of people around the world who have fallen ill due to COVID-19, we are calling on Secretary Xavier Becerra, Dr. Francis Collins, and members of the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Response Team to take action to ensure that any diagnostic tool, treatment, or vaccine developed with public dollars is accessible and affordable for all who need it. 

Protecting the health and well-being of Americans from a highly transmissible disease in a highly connected world necessitates a response rooted in global solidarity. We want to ensure that all diagnostics, vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 that have been developed with American taxpayer dollars are equitably priced, available to everyone, and free at the point of delivery. We ask for open and non-exclusive licensing to be included as a precondition for receiving funding, for example through the use of Global Access Licensing conditions, and for licensing agreements for any technologies developed with public funds to include clear and enforceable requirements for fair and affordable pricing. Access to the products of publicly-funded research must be the primary goal of innovative research and development (R&D) and the technology transfer process.

To those leading the American COVID-19 response, we urge you to introduce policies for equitable access to any COVID-19 diagnostic, treatment or vaccine developed with publicly funded dollars. Many lives in the US and around the world are depending on you.

Sincerely,

Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)

The Center for Artistic Activism (C4AA)

Student National Medical Association (SNMA)

The Opportunity Fund

Rachel Kiddell-Monroe, Professor at McGill University

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