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Amid a wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths fueled by the COVID-19 Delta variant, AIDS activists, human rights organizations, health workers, and intersectional social justice activists are coming together. gathered at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza in Manhattan on July 14 for a march for the German Consulate and Pfizer World Headquarters.
Protesters demand that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer lift patent restrictions for the COVID-19 vaccine and make it available to developing countries, which have only received 0.3% of COVID vaccines. 19. By comparison, more than 82% of vaccines went to wealthy countries, according to a report published by the United Nations in May.
As the Biden administration and many European countries like Greece and Italy support patent waivers for COVID-19 injections for global good, German Chancellor Angela Merkel opposes the lifting of the patent shield , citing “serious complications” for vaccine production.
“If a patent is assigned and the quality is no longer checked, I see more risk than luck,” said Merkel, who is serving her last term as German Chancellor, in May, when asked about the US proposal to give up. patent protection.
Protesters, who staged a death outside Pfizer’s world headquarters, hope President Biden will pressure Merkel when she visits Washington DC on July 15.
Asia Russell, executive director of Health Gap, said pharmaceutical companies and world leaders were turning their backs on the billions of people around the world who are in desperate need of the life-saving vaccine.
“It’s unacceptable and it’s preventable,” Russell said. “An mRNA vaccine can be manufactured inexpensively around the world. But Pfizer’s intellectual property rights monopolies are killing people around the world. It is up to the Biden administration to keep its promise to make everyone’s lives a priority. Right now, people are dying without Biden’s actions and bowing down to Pfizer’s greed. ”
Council member and New York Comptroller candidate Brad Lander, who joined the protesters in Dag Hammarskjöld Square, said it was not only a moral requirement but also a self-protection and practical requirement to demand that one of the richest countries lifts the exemption.
“We are sending people all over the world to die because of the country they live in,” Lander said and said Merkel’s voice mattered enormously, citing her handling of the refugee crisis in 2015 and the opening of the borders to migrants from Africa.
“This is a critical time for her [Merkel] to take back that leadership, ”Lander said.
While blocking 42nd Street and later the intersection of 1st Avenue and 42nd Street (no arrests were made), activists held up banners demanding an end to obstruction of COVID vaccine production -19.
The coalition of activist groups calls on pharmaceutical companies and rich countries led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop blocking efforts to give up intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments at the World Trade Organization (WTO ).
They fear that Merkel will undermine efforts to reach a deal at the next WTO General Council meeting on July 20-21, which could lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands in southern countries and spread more infectious variants of the COVID-19 virus around the world. .
Dr Steve Auerbach, a retired pediatrician and epidemiologist, said 14 billion doses will be needed globally over the next six months to prevent newer and deadlier forms of the coronavirus from sweeping the world. He fears that resistant variants will continue to develop unless the whole world is vaccinated.
“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” said Dr Auerbach. “Here in New York City, we know firsthand how the COVID disease entered and decimated communities. We here in New York know that we are part of the global village and that whatever grows elsewhere in the world will come here as well. “
Long-time activists for the Rise and Resist political action group Livvie Mann and Stewart Waldman said, “It’s really crazy to think that we only vaccinate part of the world when it comes to a global pandemic. It’s crazy that rich countries have the capacity to have extra vaccines and struggling countries don’t have enough.
“These people who are dying are not numbers. They are individuals, ”added Waldman.