Thirty veterans from the public health response to the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak and over eighty other public health experts from around the world are calling on the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), to vote in its May 2021 meeting on propositions that would dramatically expand vaccine access in poor countries.
The demands come in an open letter to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, and is organized by Mosoka Fallah, founder of the Liberian non-profit Refuge Place International whose heroic work during the 2014 Ebola epidemic was documented by The New York Times.
From May 24 to June 1, nations will convene at the World Health Assembly to make decisions about the global response to COVID-19. Signatories of the open letter argue that G20 and other wealthy countries must go beyond waiving patents to donate all of their excess doses of COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries that have been outbid for vaccines. The letter reads, “as we learned through the Ebola pandemic, poverty and geography should not be the determinants of access to life-saving vaccines.”
Mosokah Fallah added, “we are at a pivotal moment in human history: will the WHO fulfill its mandate of universal healthcare by instituting universal vaccine care? All eyes are on the WHO.” The letter was assisted by 1Day Africa, the African chapter of 1Day Sooner, a non-profit that advocates for volunteers who want to take part in high-impact medical trials, including COVID-19 human challenge trials.
On Wednesday, May 12th, at 12pm EST / 4pm GMT, Mosoka Fallah will join Ezekiel Emanuel, member of President Biden’s transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, Vardit Ravitsky, President of the International Association of Bioethics, and Gita Sen, Director of the Ramalingaswami Centre on Equity & Social Determinants of Health, to discuss their letter to the World Health Assembly. The virtual event, which is co-organized by Center for Population-Level Bioethics at Rutgers University and 1Day Sooner, is available to all— RSVP here.
Below are quotes from open letter signatories about global vaccine equity.