Activists Rally for Greater Vaccine Access

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Dr. Oni Blackstock, a health advocate who formerly served as the assistant commissioner for the Bureau of HIV for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, delivers remarks.
Donna Aceto

Activists flocked to Times Square on November 30 to call for greater access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world — especially as the new variant brings heightened attention to the pandemic.

Citizens Trade Campaign/New York Trade Justice Campaign, Health GAP, Housing Works, Metro New York Health Care for All, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Right to Health Action, and Rise and Resist were among the organizations involved in the Times Square demonstration, which coincided with what was supposed to be the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 12th annual Ministerial meeting in Geneva — but the conference wound up getting postponed due to travel restrictions brought on by the Omicron variant.

Activists intended to put pressure on the WTO to make vaccines more widely available. The WTO was slated to discuss India and South Africa’s proposal to waive intellectual property rights tied to COVID shots and treatments. The WTO has not yet scheduled a new date for the conference.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director-general of the WTO, has raised alarms about the imbalance of vaccine distribution around the world.

“The level of inequity is quite high,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told CNBC on December 2. “I am very concerned that if we continue with the inequity that will have a dampening effect on [the] recovery in those countries.”

Dr. Craig Spencer, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.Donna Aceto
Signs call for the World Trade Organization to take action.Donna Aceto
The messages from one health crisis are applicable during another one.Donna Aceto
Columbia University medical student Amir Hassan.Donna Aceto

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