Asia Russell, Health GAP Executive Director, said: “This is a dire global health emergency, and instead of using their power to compel pharma companies to share know-how to build capacity and rapidly expand vaccine manufacturing around the world, the Biden administration is promising billions more in public funding to the most profitable, powerful companies in the world to increase manufacturing in the U.S.
“Countries in the poorest parts of the world have been demanding access to the know-how to make COVID-19 vaccines themselves, so they are not beholden to the whims of pharma. Without that access to knowledge – knowledge developed through publicly funded research – their lives will always be an afterthought.
“The Biden administration knows that a call for proposals from ‘experienced mRNA manufacturers’ can only be answered by the same companies that have refused to engage in any voluntary technology transfer and have actively campaigned against the intellectual property waiver proposed by South Africa and India at the World Trade Organization (WTO). They already control the supply and the price, and this announcement solidifies their power to determine who has access to life-saving medicines and who doesn’t.
“The billions announced today in public funding must come with ‘strings attached’: pharmaceutical companies must commit to comprehensive technology transfer to expand manufacturing capacity in the global South and the Biden administration must commit to exercising emergency powers and use of intellectual property flexibilities if the private sector does not cooperate. Any contracts must also be made publicly available–government transparency, not secrecy, is vital to ending COVID-19.”