Don’t Withhold Life-Saving COVID-19 Vaccines From the Poor

Target: Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna Therapeutics

Goal: Equalize distribution of highly protective Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to enhance access for low-income countries.

Recent research suggests Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be the most effective in the world at preventing infection, serious illness requiring hospitalization, and death. A boost in supplies for this vaccine could truly be a game-changer for the global pandemic. Yet a disturbing new report indicates that the company behind this vaccine is putting relentless profit over public health.

According to the report, only about one million Moderna doses have been provided to low-income countries. For comparison, the numbers are eight times as high with the Pfizer vaccine and 25 times more for the Johnson & Johnson shot. Even countries considered middle-income have experienced trouble securing Moderna supplies and are often forced to pay heftier sums than wealthier nations where abundant supplies often go unused. These countries, where vaccination rates still remain despairingly low (and not by choice), are understandably frustrated and alarmed.

Many of the countries who have most benefitted from generous Moderna dosages have taken the company to task. The Biden administration has called for a ramp-up in production at U.S. factories (since the company’s almost-exclusive focus is on vaccine distribution). They have additionally encouraged licensing of the technology to overseas providers who could in turn offer better access to people desperately seeking protection from this pandemic. Leaders have also called on Moderna to sell more low-cost dosages that could then be donated to struggling countries. So far few, if any, of these entreaties have come to pass.

Sign the petition below to urge a corporation profiting billions of dollars off a pandemic to remember its oath to serve the greater good.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Bancel,

You have rushed to defend accusations that Moderna is abandoning poor countries in the fight against COVID-19 by claiming that circumstances are out of your control. Yet numerous proposals and negotiations have taken place to correct this inequity, to no avail. This pandemic may have landed many Moderna executives on the Forbes rich and wealthy list, but the true heroes are the employees working on the ground to make these medical breakthroughs possible. You are doing them, and the world, a disservice by seeing these vaccines as nothing more than dollar signs.

You agreed to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations doctrine that vaccines be made “first available to populations when and where they are needed and at prices that are affordable to the populations at risk, especially low- and middle-income countries or to public sector entities that procure on their behalf.” Yet you have refused offers to license your ground-breaking technology, to negotiate low-cost doses to be used for donations, and to set a fair and equitable price (or even an opportunity) for the lowest-income countries. You pledged 34 million doses to Covax, but not one of these dosages has been received by the United Nations.

Scientists have likened the Moderna vaccine to a “sledgehammer,” but your competitors are hammering you in fairer distribution and pricing models for all nations. Please change course. Let Moderna’s legacy be one of pandemic slayer, not pandemic prolonger. Millions of lives could be saved with the decisions you make and the empathy you show now.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska


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