Calling For A People’s Vaccine Against COVID-19

Two years since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic – and faced with disturbingly unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines – we urge world leaders to do what is necessary to end this crisis and unite behind a People’s Vaccine.

For over two years, COVID-19 has ravaged the world, upending billions of lives and livelihoods. While some in wealthy countries become complacent about this unprecedented crisis, billions of people in the global south remain vulnerable to this terrible disease, facing the threat of severe illness and death. Many are suffering hunger and destitution as a result of lockdowns and continued economic hardship. While the huge social impact of children missing many months of school and women facing increased domestic violence are yet to be fully comprehended.

Sadly, despite what some leaders in wealthy countries would like us to believe, the pandemic is not over. But it is within our grasp to end it and ensure everyone is protected. That requires giving everyone, everywhere access to safe and effective vaccines and other life-saving COVID-19 technologies. This is possible, thanks to the incredible advances of science and the public investment of governments around the world.

However, the cruel reality is that self-defeating nationalism, pharmaceutical monopolies and inequality stand in our way. We did not need to reach the milestones of two years and an estimated twenty million deaths from COVID-19. This was avoidable.

We ask world leaders to come together and coordinate a response to solve this unprecedented crisis of historic proportions. We urge them to commit to sharing the economic burden required to fund the next stages of vaccines, treatments, testing, and the medical oxygen and PPE needed by healthcare workers around the world. The commitment of world leaders according to each country’s ability to pay is crucial. Nations must urgently come forward and provide their share of the long-term, sustainable finance that will enable us to make the whole world safe.

The European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland continue to block the lifting of intellectual property rules which would enable the redistribution and scale-up of COVID-19 vaccines, test and treatment manufacturing in the global south. The transfer of largely publicly funded vaccine technology and know-how from pharmaceutical corporations would fast track production to a matter of months. Yet still today, a handful of these corporations retain the power to dictate vaccine supply, distribution and price – and the power to decide who lives and who dies. World leaders, and particularly rich nations, have the responsibility to change this situation and ensure the publicly funded vaccine technology and know-how is available to the global south.

The current approach is immoral, entirely self-defeating and also an ethical, economic and epidemiological failure. The virus is mutating all the time. Existing vaccines are less effective against the Omicron variant, and although vaccines continue to protect against severe disease and hospitalisation, there is no guarantee this will continue in the face of future variants. At the same time, the cost to the global economy of failing to vaccinate the world is estimated to be $9 trillion dollars.

Twenty-two months ago, we first united behind a call for a People’s Vaccine. We knew the painful lessons from a history of unequal access in dealing with diseases such as HIV and Ebola. And we remembered the ground-breaking victories of health movements, including AIDS activists and advocates who fought for access to affordable medicines for all. But world leaders did not listen and failed to heed the warning that “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

Now we are reuniting, in greater numbers, and with utmost urgency repeating our call for a People’s Vaccine. We appeal to world leaders to end this strategy of counter-productive nationalism and of protecting pharmaceutical monopolies and to finally act with international solidarity. Now is the time to renew the commitments made at the founding of the World Health Organization, where all states agreed to deliver “the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.”

Specifically, we call on governments to take these urgent five steps:

Urgently agree and implement a global roadmap to deliver the WHO goal of fully vaccinating 70% of people by mid-2022, and beyond this ensure sustained, timely and equitable access worldwide to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, tests and other medical technologies, including next generations effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines and medical technologies.

Maximise the production of safe and effective vaccines and other COVID-19 products by suspending relevant intellectual property rules and ensuring the mandatory pooling of all COVID-19 related knowledge, data and technologies so that any nation can produce or buy sufficient and affordable doses of vaccines, treatments and tests.

Invest public funding now in a rapid and massive increase in vaccine manufacturing as well as research and development (R&D) capacity to build a global distributed network capable of and governed to deliver affordable vaccines as global public goods to all nations.

Make COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests available to governments and institutions at a price as close to the true cost as possible, and provided free of charge to everyone, everywhere, and allocated according to need.

5. Scale up sustainable investment in public health systems to ensure that low- and middle-income country governments have adequate resources to get shots into arms and save lives. These investments will pay dividends in the global economy and help restore economic and development gains which the global COVID-19 pandemic has partially reversed.

We stand ready to support world leaders in their joint response to achieve vaccine equity and are confident the lessons learned from previous crises will serve to guide us and avoid repeating old mistakes. Every life lost now to vaccine apartheid is avoidable. Only a People’s Vaccine – based on the principles of equity and solidarity – can protect all of humanity and create a fairer, safer, more prosperous world.


H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania Esko Aho - Prime Minister of Finland (1991-1995)1

Rashid Alimov - Secretary-General Shanghai Cooperation Organization (2016-2019), Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan (1992-1994)2

Farida Allaghi - former Libyan Ambassador to EU
Elizabeth Allen - Clerk of General Meeting for Scotland, on behalf of Quakers in Scotland

Philip Alston - John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law, New York University School of Law and Former UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights

Abdulaziz Altwaijri - former Director-General of ISESCO2
Jayadev Arjun - Professor of Economics at Azim Premji University Bishop John Arnold - Salford Diocese; Chair of CAFOD
Rosalia Arteaga Serrano - President of Ecuador (1997)2
Shaukat Aziz - Prime Minister of Pakistan (2004-2007)2
Ki-moon Ban - Eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations1 Joyce Banda - President of the Republic of Malawi (2012-2014)1

Gabriel Baracat - Executive Director of AVINA

Nelson Barbosa - Professor, FGV and the University of Brasilia, and former Finance Minister of Brazil

Dr. Gonzalo Basile - CLASCO/FLACSO

Michael Beasley - Bishop of Hertford and Co-convenor of the Anglican Health and Community Network

Carol Bellamy - Former Executive Director, UNICEF (1995-2005)

Matías Bianchi - Executive Director of Colabora.Lat

Ana Birchall - Deputy Prime Minister of Romania (2018-2019), Minister of Justice (2019)2

Valdis Birkavs - Prime Minister of Latvia (1993-1994)1

Gordon Brown - Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2007-2010)12

Gabriela Bucher - Executive Director of Oxfam International

Nishani Bujar - President of Albania (2012-2017)2

Sharan Burrow - General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Winnie Byanyima - Executive Director of UNAIDS and UN Under-Secretary General

Fernando Henrique Cardoso - President of Brazil (1995-2003)1

Hikmet Cetin - Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey (1991-1994), Speaker of the Parliament (1997-1999), deputy Prime Minister (1995)2

Helen Clark - Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999-2008), UNDP Administrator (2009-2017)12 Emil Constantinescu - President of Romania (1996-2000)2
Archbishop Leo Cushley - on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland
Olivier De Schutter - Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights

Philip Dimitrov - Prime Minister of Bulgaria (1991-1992)1
Revd Clare Downing - Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church (UK) Barbara Easton - Vice-President of the Methodist Conference

Diane Elson - Emeritus Professor University of Essex

María Fernanda Espinosa - 73th President of the UN General Assembly, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Minister of National Security of Ecuador2

Christiana Figueres - Executive Secretary of UNFCCC (2010-2016)
Jan Fisher - Prime Minister of the Czech Republic (2009-2010)2
Vincente Fox - President of Mexico (2000-2006)1
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr - Professor of International Affairs at The New School Chiril Gaburici - Prime Minister of Moldova (2015)2

José García Hernández - Secretario Ejecutivo, Pastoral Social Caritas Ecuador - Conferencia Episcopal Ecuatoriana

Jayati Ghosh - Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA; Member of WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All

Dr. Githinji Gitahi - Global CEO, Amref Health Africa

Felipe González - President of the Government of Spain (1982-1996)1

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic - President of Croatia (2015-2020)2

Revd. Lynn Green - General Secretary, The Baptist Union of Great Britain

Dalia Grybauskaitė - President of Lithuania (2009-2019)1

Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim - President of Mauritius (2015 to 2018)

Alfred Gusenbauer - Chancellor of Austria (2007-2008)1

Tarja Halonen - President of Finland (2000-2012)1

Seung-soo Han - Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea (2008-2009) and Vice-President of Club de Madrid1

Hilda Heine - President of the Marshall Islands (2016-2020)1

Michele Heisler, MD, MPA - Medical Director, Physicians for Human Rights, and Professor, Internal Medicine and Public Health, University of Michigan

P. Francisco Hernández Rojas - Coordinador Regional, Caritas de América Latina y el Caribe

Revd Sonia Hicks - President of the Methodist Conference
James Holt - Executive Director, Archewell Foundation
Dr Mo Ibrahim - Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu - Secretary-General Organization of Islamic Cooperation (2004-2014)2 Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva - President of Kyrgyzstan (2010-2011)1

Mladen Ivanic - President of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2014-2018)2

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - President of the Republic of Liberia (2006-2018)1

Mehdi Jomaa - Prime Minister of Tunisia (2014)1

Ivo Josipović - President of Croatia (2010-2015)12

Mats Karlsson - Vice-President of the World Bank (1999-2002)2

Jadranka Kosor - Prime Minister of Croatia (2009-2011)2

Leonid Kuchma - President of Ukraine (1994-2005)2

Chandrika Kumaratunga - President of Sri Lanka (1994-2005)1

Ricardo Lagos - President of Chile (2000-2006)1

Zlatko Lagumdzija - Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2001-2002), deputy Prime Minister (2012-2015)12

Lic. Agustina Langwagen - Directora, Cáritas Uruguaya

Petru Lucinschi - President of Moldova (1997-2001)2

Johan Lundgren - Chief Executive Officer, easyJet

Nora Lustig - Samuel Z. Stone Professor of Latin American Economics and Director, Commitment to Equity Institute (CEQI), Tulane University

Graca Machel - Deputy Chair of The Elders and Founder of the Graça Machel Trust Neil MacMillan - Moderator, Free Church of Scotland
The Most Revd. Dr. Thabo Cecil Makgoba - Archbishop of Cape Town

Susana Malcorra - Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina (2015-2017) Mark Malloch-Brown - President of the Open Society Foundations Purnima Mane - Former UNFPA Deputy Executive Director
Moussa Mara - Prime Minister of Mali (2014-2015)2

Georgi Margvelashvili - President of Georgia (2013-2018)2
Professor Sir Michael Marmot FRCP - Director, UCL Institute of Health Equity

Mariana Mazzucato - Professor at University College London; Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP); Chair of WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All

Carolyn McAskie - Canadian diplomat and former assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping at the United Nations

Peter Medgyessy - Prime Minister of Hungary (2002-2004)2 Rexhep Meidani - President of Albania (1997-2002)12 Carlos Mesa - President of Bolivia (2003-2005)1
Stjepan Mesic - President of Croatia (2000-2010)2

James Michel - President of Seychelles (2004-2016)1
Rev Dr David Miller - Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland Rovshan Muradov - Founding Secretary General, Nizami Ganjavi International Center2
Lord Wallace of Tankerness - Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland Djoomart Otorbayev - Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan (2014-2015)2
Paul Parker - Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
JP Patterson - Prime Minister of Jamaica (1992-2006)1
Kate Pickett - Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York

Thomas Piketty - Professor of Economics, Paris School of Economics and Co-Director, World Inequality Database

Rosen Plevneliev - President of Bulgaria (2012-2017)2

Paul Polman - Business leader and global advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals, CEO of Unilever (2009-2019)

Jorge ́Tuto ́ Quiroga - President of Bolivia (2001-2002)1

Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta - President of Timor-Leste (2007-2012) and Nobel Laureate for Peace (1996)1

Sir Richard J. Roberts, Ph.D. F.R.S. - 1993 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine

Mary Robinson - President of Ireland (1990-1997), Chair of the Elders

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero - President of the Government of Spain (2004-2011)1

Dani Rodrik - President of the International Economic Association, Professor of International Political Economy, Harvard University

Abdelraouf Salem Nahar al-Rawabdeh - Prime Minister of Jordan (1999-2000), President of the Senate (2013-2015)2

Hedva Ser - Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO2
Ismail Serageldin - Vice-President of the World Bank (1992-2000)2

Fatiha Serour - Deputy Special Representative for Somalia and Africa Group for Justice & Accountability

Petar Stoyanov - President of Bulgaria (1997-2002)2

Hanna Suchocka - Prime Minister of Poland (1992-1993)1

Fred Swaniker - Founder & Chairman, African Leadership Group

Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex

Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex

Charlize Theron - United Nations Messenger of Peace, Founder of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project

Jigmi Y. Thinley - Prime Minister of Buthan (2008-2013)1

Eka Tkeshelashvili - Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia (2010-2012), Minister of Foreign Affairs (2008)2

Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell - Bishop President of SCIAF

Danilo Türk - President of Slovenia (2007-2012) and President of Club de Madrid1

Cassam Uteem - President of Mauritius (1992-2002)1

Dr. Eckart v. Hirschhausen - Physician, science journalist and founder of the Healthy Planet - Healthy People Foundation

Raimonds Vejonis - President of Latvia (2015-2019)2

Vaira Vike-Freiberga - President of Latvia (1999-2007), Co-Chair Nizami Ganjavi International Center12

Filip Vujanovic - President of Montenegro (2003-2018)2

Darren Walker - 10th President of Ford Foundation

Rev. Tom Wilson - Minister Knightswood Congregational Church, Glasgow

Yasar Yakish - Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey (2002-2003)2

Professor Muhammad Yunus - 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate: Chairman, Yunus centre: Founder, Grameen Bank

Katernya Yushchenko - First Lady of Ukraine (2005-2010)2 Viktor Yushchenko - President of Ukraine (2005-2010)2 Gabriel Zucman - Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley

1 Member of Club de Madrid
2 Member of Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC)