• Press Release

COVID-19 vaccine should be available to all, contrary to new Executive Order

December 8, 2020

Photo by SILVIO AVILA/AFP via Getty Images
Responding to reports of an executive order issued by President Donald Trump, Amnesty International USA Interim Executive Director, Bob Goodfellow said:

“The anticipated executive order from President Trump is morally and strategically misguided.  If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are only as safe as those of us who are most at risk. COVID-19 vaccines should be available to everyone – regardless of where they live or what they can afford. COVID-19 is a global crisis that requires global cooperation, not a me-first approach, or an America-first approach, that jeopardizes everyone’s right to be protected from the virus.

“Under international human rights law, countries have an obligation to work together to respond to the pandemic, and wealthier countries have a special responsibility to assist those with fewer resources. Hoarding vaccines for Americans will not end this pandemic. The World Health Organization estimates that to reach herd immunity, roughly 70 percent of the global population will need to be vaccinated.  Only by taking care of one another can we finally put an end to the spread of this deadly disease.”

Amnesty International USA is calling on the incoming administration to cooperate to make sure everyone has access to vaccines by refraining from making large bilateral deals with pharmaceutical companies; joining and supporting global initiatives which aim to ensure fair vaccine access for all countries, such as the WHO’s COVAX scheme; and taking the human rights of individuals and communities who are more at risk into account when deciding allocation. The human rights organization is also calling on the United States to devise national COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans that are accessible, inclusive and non-discriminatory, in line with human rights laws and standards.

Background and context

Research by Oxfam found that wealthy nations, representing just 13% of the global population, have already bought up more than half of future vaccines. This means more than half of the promised doses of the five leading vaccine candidates are already taken. As of November 2020, more than 80% of the planned 2021 supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines have already been sold to rich countries.

The COVAX Facility is a way for countries to pool their resources, to invest in and buy as many vaccines as possible, and then distribute them fairly and equitably. So far, 178 countries are engaging with COVAX – notable exceptions include the USA and Russia.

Read Amnesty International USA’s policy recommendations on global vaccine efforts.

Read Amnesty International USA’s policy recommendations on debt relief for lower-income nations.

Media contact: Mariya Parodi, [email protected]