May 5, 2021
WASHINGTON — Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) released the following statement regarding U.S. support for a resolution advanced by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organization (WTO), backed by 100 countries, to temporarily waive intellectual property protections on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments until the pandemic has ended:
“I commend President Biden for today’s monumental decision, which recognizes the common humanity we share in the face of this horrific and unprecedented pandemic. By heeding the call of a global grassroots movement and a majority of House Democrats—led by Progressive Caucus members Reps. Schakowsky, Doggett, DeLauro, Blumenauer, Chuy Garcia, and Espaillat—this administration is restoring U.S. global leadership by putting human life above pharmaceutical profits. This life-saving decision to reverse the Trump Administration’s shameful obstruction of international efforts to temporarily waive patent monopolies could not come a moment too soon, as India, Brazil, and countries across the world experience terrifying new surges in COVID19 infections and deaths.
“Today, wealthy countries have administered more than 80 percent of global vaccines while low-income countries have received just 0.3 percent. Redressing this injustice requires deploying every tool in our arsenal, and this waiver is a vital first step. The Progressive Caucus is ready to partner with this administration on additional measures to achieve our shared goal of a rapid and equitable global vaccination program. This should include leveraging U.S. patent ownership over vaccine innovations to license their widespread production; investing an additional $25 billion in the Build Back Better agenda to manufacture vaccines domestically and provide them to the world; cooperating with the World Health Organization’s program to transfer vaccine technology to global producers; and supporting a new issuance of Special Drawing Rights, a cost-free IMF reserve asset, to strengthen public-health budgets worldwide and assist low-income countries in carrying out vaccination campaigns.
“Now is the time to build international cooperation and solidarity in ways we have never seen before, including using the full force of U.S. membership in multilateral institutions, as the Biden Administration has just demonstrated at the WTO in such an historic way. It is clearer than ever that the fate of our own health and safety in the United States is inextricably connected to the wellbeing and protection of the most vulnerable among us worldwide.”