tv Georgetown Discussion on COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution CSPAN April 22, 2021 8:44am-10:01am EDT
hears from law enforcement officials and criminal justice reform advocates about ways to improve policing in the u.s. next, california representative barbara lee and chelsea can't discuss the covid-19 vaccine at a virtual discussion hosted by georgetown university. this runs one hour and 15 minutes. >> hello, and welcome to this virtual event on a people covid-19 vaccine. i am melanne verveer and i direct the georgia institute for women's peace and security. we are so pleased to be hosting this programo today with oxfam america. as we all know, covid has exposed deep inequities on people around the globe, and it continues to takee a terrible toll. no one will be safe from the
effects of the pandemic until everyone is safe, until everyone is vaccinated. a people's vaccine, one made available to everyone no matter where he or she lives, no matter rich or poor. it is urgently needed. and we are still far from having that globalro commitment that is required to meet the need. in other words, the world today does not yet have what it takes to in the pandemic, to get everyone vaccinated. we have an exceptional group of experts and community leaders with us today to discuss this topic. each has been at the forefront of the effort to ensure equitable vaccine distribution. they will share their views with us on what needs to be done
urgently and why it needs to be done. as our first speaker today has written, until the whole world is vaccinated, the whole world willte be at risk. the longer the world lets the virus run free to infect and mutate, the more likely the world will face a prolonged crisis, and none of us wants to see this happen. we are in a race against the covid-19 virus, and the virus will continue to win unless we act decisively. before we begin i'm happy to welcome close to 800 attendees who are with us from across 100 countries, and we anticipate another couple thousand who are with us on facebook. we have already received many pre-submitted question from our audience.
we also ask you that if you wish to submit questions during the course of this discussion, you're welcome to do so using the q&a feature on your screen. just note your name, affiliation and to whom you are directing your question. i can think of no better person to start this conversation than dr. rajiv shah, the president of the rockefeller foundation, where he has been leaving its innovative, deep and lasting commitment to fight covid-19. he previously served as the administrator of the united states agency for international development where he led the u.s. response to the ebola pandemic, the food security initiative to fight against hunger around the world, significant investments in health, the response to natural disasters like the earthquake in
haiti, and so much more. he also has deep experience as a scientist and as a physician. he served as the undersecretary of the department of agriculture where he created the national institute for food and agriculture, and many positions in the gates foundation earlier. there's too much more to say about him, but iay would be rems if i didn't also note that he is a distinguished, was a distinguished fellow resident at georgetown university. thank you so much for being with us today. it is really a sign i think of your ongoing commitment to this issue. you wrote recently, until the whole world is vaccinated, the whole world will be at risk. please help us set the context
for this discussion today. why is this issue so urgent? what can we be doing, each of us, to really push this envelope in a in a way that will help us get to article? thank you so much, dr. shah. the floor is yours. >> thank you, melanne. it's a wonderful to be with you, and i appreciate the opportunity to speak to this incredible assembled group. as you know i'm a big fan of the george kent institute for women, peace and security and your extraordinary leadership of it. i also want to thank our colleagues at oxfam whok done such important work to make it clear that, in fact, until we vaccinate the entire planet, none of us are safe from covid and covid-19 and its variants and, in fact, none of us have achieved the equity objectives we all seek as we try to recover
from this tremendous catastrophe. the reality is we know the current situation is unsustainable, and if i i just step back and point out there's obviously been millions of deaths from covid-19's around the world. and we know that a disproportion of those deaths have been actually in wealthier nations and it has certain existing exposures so far, but now we see a big acceleration in mortality and morbidity related to covid-19, in india, in brazil, in so many parts of the emerging world. s and that makes this crisis even more urgent. we have been successful at building a big global public-private partnership that has resulted in tremendous breakthroughs of science and innovation, and we now have an entire portfolio of safe and effective vaccine with several more on the way. what we now need to do is
understand that in order to deploy these vaccines effectively, every community has to reach a target number well north of 70% in order to achieve a real herd immunity everywhere. and until that is achieved, no one is going to be safe. theie reason is, if we have lare folds of replication in the developing and emerging world, even if we're all vaccinated in wealthier nations, those pools of viral replication will give rise to new variants, and we already see a range of new variants reducing the margin that the existing vaccines have had in terms of the strength of the antibody response. and so it is entirely possible that new variants of the future will undermine the effectiveness of current vaccines and require societies that think they have gotten over covid to once again deal with an out-of-control pandemic. and so what d we can dash of wht
can we do about it? we know the basic solutions are pretty straightforward. we need a massive new investment in global immunization and global health. the rockefeller foundation together with the international monetary fund and many, many other partners have proposed that a new allocation of international monetary funds special drawing rights effectively a reserve currency be allocated and then used in part to invest in a massive new effort to immunize everyone everywhere. such a proposal could generate $4,450,000,000,000 over the next few years and could help accelerate the achievement of herd immunity of you on the planet by the end of next year. second, we need to turn additional public resources in the vaccines that are available and accessible everywhere. that's going to require a
different way of thinking about how we manufacture and distribute these vaccines. the reality is that production has largely been absorbed by the wealthiest nations to date. that's not unexpected but we now need to change that and make sure it's much more accessible to others. so i welcome the conversation on intellectualer property. we know that intellectual property alone doesn't deal vaccines that going to people's arms. you need technology transfer, the support for new production facilities. you need to use advanced purchase commitments everywhere around the planet to make sure vaccineses are available and ultimately you need big investments from public health agencies to ensure adequate distribution so that you actually get the coverage you need, particularly in hard-to-reach and lower income communities in every society. that package of action has been pursued before. in 2000 after the creation of
the global alliance for vaccine immunization, we saw a steady 20 increase in vaccinations for children because of people coming together public and private, corporate and public health, to figure out how we make sure every child is fully immunized. we did this during the ebola crisis when we recognized that addressing the pandemic crisis in its hotspot come in that case in west africa, would protect the rest of the planet and so the world made the right investments to do just that. this is our moment to make sure we grab a hold of covid-19, see it as what it is, which is that we're all in this together, and make this sort of massive one time but absolutely necessary investment in both manufacturing and distribution so we can achieve herd immunity target in every community on the planet. it is achievable. it's incredibly affordable and
where we spent trillions of dollars deal with the consequences of the pandemic, and effective seal the way to protect even our very own societies in the united states or other oecd countries that seem to be on a a more robust pathway to achieve herd immunity via vaccination. so i appreciate the chance to be with you. i am thrilled you're going to have real dialogue about what it takes to achieve this goal, and i know that with you and your community partners we will all be successful together. >> well, thank you so much, raj. thank you forel taking the time for your ongoing leadership. and as you so eloquently said, this is our moment and we are all in this together. so we won't now proceed with our distinguished panel, and we're going to begin with chelsea clinton who is the vice chair of the clinton foundation where
she's been workingnd to promote vaccine access in addition to holding a wide portfolio consisting of efforts to create economic opportunity, improve public health, civic engagement, and in so many other areas where she has been such a demonstrated leader. chelsea serves on the board's of the clinton health access initiative and the alliance for a healthier generation. she teaches at columbia university school of public health and has written several books for young readers. chelsea, it's awfully good to see you today and we're thrilled to have you join this discussion and hopefullyd pick up where raj has left off. and let me ask at the outset, because you have been such an outspoken leader about the need for equitable vaccine access, how do we move forward, in your
judgment, and drive confidence in the vaccine? because that's still a big question for so many and a big problem obviously. and why is an equitable vaccine distribution important? for a moment let's look at our country. why should the united states care about this? >> thank you so much, melanne, and i really want to thank everyone at georgetown and february at oxfam for helping bring us together in virtual space but in a very real community this morning. i really, i want to build on what raj was saying and then kind of also kind of comment on our deeply inequitable vaccine and vaccination kind of efforts are in the united states thus
far. at a global level as raj was saying it's not only a majority of the covid-19 vaccinations thus far have been distributed in wealthy countries. it's actually more than 86%. it's well north of just a bare majority. only .1% have been given in low income countries. so the inequity is fast and kind of in and of itself should be a moral callingts for remedy. but as raj saying we are continually reminded of a deeply interconnected we are especially when it comes to public health. so this print much is in our best interest to follow the leadership of the rockefeller foundation and kind of what they're working to do with the imf. i also strongly support the push from mary robinson and others of our kind of so-called elders, you know kind kind of very long
time public servants from across the globe who are calling on the wto to effectively waive intellectual property rights or it is especially important for the mrna vaccines which a relatively easier to produce and get of course as raj said, sharing the intellectual property in and of itself while necessary is insufficient to actually ensure that vaccines are produced around the globe and then those vaccines as that was a locally or in the u.s. turns into shots in arms. we know while that is a crucial step we also i think from the u.s. perspective should very much listen to the doctors and other seven calling on pepfar, kind presidential emergency program for vaccine administration in which we would invest in building real vaccine manufacturing capacity around the world, flexible capacity.
we know this will be important not only kind of in this moment for covid-19 but also continuing to inoculate people against covid-19 to theop future. we heard from the pfizer ceo yesterday that likely we will need a booster shot within 12 months of having our first inoculations completed. .. so that would be important for the now and also continually protecting people and for others that may prove themselves to be preventable with this technology. but i do think questions are >> yet, i do think your questions about the united states are really important because i think that it would be a gross hubris if we as americans, kind of setting in d.c., or i'm sitting new york city were only to talk about
the need for global vaccine equities as crucial and critical that is as ignoring the deeply inequitious rollout in the united states. every state we have not had equity and achieved in vaccination program. in every state we're lagging vaccination efforts of black and brown americans especially despite knowing that disproportionate death, mourning, loss in our communities. in new york state we had to sue the governor to force new york city to vaccinate incarcerated population, despite being at a disproportionate risk of covid and the largest majority of covid clusters in the last 14
months have occurred in prison and jail settings. so even getting to kind of risk-based vaccine distribution as well as equity-centered vaccine distribution remains kind of a vision and not yet a reality and yet, i hope that if we continue to have more conversations like this, hopefully we won't need court cases for our governors to make right choices and i think the administration, i think has done an important job continues to prioritize equity in its vaccination plans over the months ahead. >> well, you've really continued where raj left off in helping us to better understand the various components of this, in addition to the urgency. and as you said, chelsea, it's a capacity issue, it's a manufacturing issue, distribution is critical, obviously, and so is financing, and i dare say it's political
will as well. and how do you see what the mobilization will take? because you're an extraordinary advocate in your own right in the public health sphere. this is a very big challenge. what will it take to mobilize what we need to do to get to our goal and how do we take that mobilization to scale? >> i think-- >> your thoughts on that. >> a number of questions, melanne. i think it's really important that we continue to talk to and help each other understand, listen to one another kind of really narrowing in on what do we need to galvanize toward. certainly, i hope we can build political will for the u.s. being a leader on multiple levels, a leader kind of with the rockefeller foundation on their work with the ims. i hope that the u.s., they've
indicated they're thinking about this in the biden administration, i hope that president biden will support a waiver and i hope that americans will. we as american taxpayers invested substantially in the development of the moderna mrna vaccine given the temperatures to be stored for broader-based distribution across the united states as well as the world. so i hope that we here in the united states continue to take a hard look at ourselves and what we need to do on vaccine and health equity more broadly and very much kind of take the leadership role that i think we need to claim to building the real kind of durable, flexible, but durable broader vaccine distribution and again centered on equity across the globe.
at current projections we won't inoculate most of the world kind of at the herd thresholds that raj was talking about earlier, 2024. that's a disaster, it's a disaster for people's lives and livelihoods and a disaster from a public health and public health security standpoint. so while i would hope that the kind of moral call would be sufficient, if not, i would hope that the self-interested argument would be-- we've had more than three million people die of covid-19, tens of millions of people push closer into poverty, trillions of dollars of our economy not realized over the last 14 months and hopefully, any of these statistics as well as the human stories behind them kind of will galvanize action, melanne. and as raj said it's important to realize we've done big
things before, the childhood immunization and saved tens of millions of kids lives by focusing on inoculating children across the world. the pet far program started by president bush and continued in a bipartisan way, kind of across different congresses and presidential administrations and i really think about this global effort to eradicate polio which i don't think that raj talked about. launched in 1988 when the world decided that we were going to eradicate this horrific disease in 1988 it was still endemic in a majority of the world's countries, thousands and thousands of children died every year, many tens of thousands were left permanently disabled by polio infection, and we martialed the most everprior to covid-19 to
vaccinate our kids across the world. at the height of the polio vaccine efforts in india alone, we had five million vaccine workers just focused on inoculating children and babies against the polio virus. we know we can do this, so when you ask how do we galvanize people? we make the moral case, the self-interested case and also, enabling people to imagine and understand how we can do this and some of it might be technical and kind of what needs to happen at the inf or who-- or wto, excuse me, but some of it has to be understanding, yes, we can train, mobilize, deploy tens of millions of vaccine workers, largely women who often are our frontline health care workers across the world particularly in vaccine efforts. >> we know we can do it because we do it every year in our
routine immunizations against the measles and we did it in my lifetime not that long ago when we were in the biggest push against polio. >> well, it's well-said and i think especially to think about the examples of what we have done in the past and how they can be guide posts for us, and certainly your reminder that this just isn't the right thing to do, it's the smart thing. it's the strategic thing. it's in our self-interest and it is urgently needed now. we're going to come back to you, chelsea, during the q & a, and i'm going to move now to abby maxman, who is the president and ceo of ox fam america and the role of gender and social change and humanitarian preparedness and
response to those crises among so many other areas of engagement. prior to joining she served as deputy secretary-general of care international where she was posted in geneva and earlier as vice-president of international programs and operation for care usa. she's tsi with the u.s. peace corps, the u.n. world food program, the german agency for technical cooperation, and others. so, abby, thank you so much not just for your partnership today and for the work that oxfam does, but i know that you and the organization are working on the front lines to prevent the spread of covid and from that perspective of front line workers who see firsthand what's at stake, maybe you can
give us a sense of why an equitable distribution of the vaccine is so critical and critical in preventing the spread of covid, surely. and what are the stakes you see in so many countries where oxfam overall has been working? >> well, thanks so much, melanne. it's great to be chelsea, raj, others. and speaking of the critical times. indeed, this year has been a challenging year for all of us. imagine coping with the pandemic while you have no access to health care to speak of, no way to social distance, live in a tent in a refugee camp and imagine sharing one water tap with 250 people. as usual, in a crisis of this kind of magnitude, it is the
poorest who suffer the most. there's twin crises of this pandemic, the public health emergency that has killed millions worldwide that raj and chelsea already spoke to and the resulting economic fallout that's caused trillions in losses and devastating impacts on people living in poverty. you know, covid is truly the inequality virus and half a billion people are now underemployed or out of work, twice as many women affected as men, people are falling into debt, skipping meals and selling their assets. kids aren't in school, and migrants families have collapsed. and we have helped 14 million people across 70 countries. we've collaborated with nearly 700 local organizations providing food assistance, distributing clean water and so, conducting public
information campaigns, and we've all seen and recognized the unbelievable suffering, but we've also seen unimaginable resilience and this is why this pivotal moment that we find ourselves in now is so crucial, as raj says, this is our moment and we now have multiple safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus. but despite investing billions of taxpayer dollars, we find ourselves at the mercy at the hands of giant pharmaceutical corporations that do maintain control over the life saving doses. they control how many doses are produced where they're manufactured and sold and at what price, they're unable to make enough vaccines for everyone who needs them now and this has created this vast chasm of inequality. in the u.s., canada and other rich countries, someone gets
vaccinated every single second. but as said earlier, the majority of the world's poorest country have yet to administer a single dose. now, this inequality, as chelsea was saying is a moral, a public health and an economic disaster that threatens to prolong the devastation we're seeing near and far and all around the world. so, rather than slicing the existing pie of vaccines ever more finely, we need to share the recipe so that we have enough for everyone and that's why we're calling for a people's vaccine. >> abby, i think you've very, very distinctly set out some of those barriers that are confronted and the need to overcome them. so, thinking about national governments and the role that they played, the multilateral institutions, what is going to
move us to action, to effective action, because those barriers are clearly there, in ways that you've articulated and probably even others that also have to be overcome. and what are your specific recommendations to the biden administration in terms of u.s. leadership? >> well, thanks to truly brilliant work by scientists all over the world, as we know, we have multiple vaccines and this is a miracle of modern science and a true testament to public investment in research and development and collaboration across national borders. now, the scientists have done their job and it's time for corporate leaders and policy makers now to do theirs. and even as the rollout of vaccines is increasing in some countries, we lack the political will to increase the supply and distribution of these vaccines everywhere. now, giant pharmaceutical
companies do maintain the monopoly control over the vaccine technology that artificially constrains the production. and the competition for doses is widening inequality that we've spoken about and prolonged suffering. president biden and other world leaders have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to bring about this people's vaccine. the u.s. commitments to covax are welcomed steps, but willfully insufficient to address the magnitude of the challenge we face. the u.s. and rich countries donating dollars and doses is nice, but it's not the sustainable solution. and that's because sharing a dose of vaccine can only help one person, while sharing the technology and building the capacity to rapidly scale up production of vaccines and
boosters now around the world will help everyone. so president biden and his g7 counterparts should season this historic moment to mobilize vaccine to all by insisting they share their technology and know-how and build for production around the world. include includes the cpac and the coronavirus access pool. we need to encourage and not block country's ability to produce more vaccine doses so president biden and g7 leaders must support a proposal of the world trade organization by south africa, india and others to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for vaccine treatments to encourage manufacturing in their own market. since yesterday, more than 170 former heads of state and government and noble laureates
signed a proposal and we need a vaccine, and president biden has an opportunity to lead right now to make this vision reality. >> well, thank you, abby. we'll come back during the q & a session to hear more from you. and now to our friend, winnie, the executive director of un aid and undersecretary-general. she leads in the aids epidemic. prior to her position, she served at oxfam international and over a decade in uganda's parliament heading their first parliamentary women's caucus, i might add. and gender development and held countless other positions. i've known winnie for many years and can attest firsthand
to her passionate commitment to social justice and certainly to gender equality. so, winnie, and thank you so much for with us today. in your current position at u.n. aid, you're more than aware of the inclusive and cooperative actions on global health. and particularly for women and girls, i might add. and you've been an early champion of a people's vaccine, so from a governance, a global governance perspective, where do you think we stand right now in terms of vaccine distribution and how does it especially affect women and girls as well? >> thank you, melanne, for inviting me to join you today. greeting from namibia where i
am and thanks to georgetown institute to oxfam for organizing this timely and important interview. and i'm delighted to be with my friend abby and to join chelsea clinton. you're right, at u.n. aid we're critically aware for the need for inclusive global health, you know, in the early years of the hiv epidemic, when life saving treatment was available to people in the rich countries in the west, people in developing countries didn't have the opportunity for this treatment for another eight years, eight years of waiting. during that time nine million lives were needlessly lost to aids in the developing countries, including here in namibia where i am.
people in the global south were waiting because there were unjust trade rules which maintained monopolies for companies and kept prices high. that was the reason. so then you say where do we stand on vaccine distribution. well, we are not doing well at all, at all. today under at the risk of repeating what others have been saying, we have-- we expect by the end of this year, nine out of 10 people in pour countries will have missed out on a vaccine. as told us, people are being vaccinated in the richer countries where there's nothing in some poor countries. say something about the economic and social consequences of this vaccine
inequity. and the world's workers have lost 3.7 trillion dollars in lost earnings in this crisis. while the world's billionaires have made 3.9 trillion dollars in this crisis. so we see widening inequalities. widening inequalities in welt, widening inequalities in gender lines in this crisis, that means increasing poverty and that means we're really going back on our gains, reversing our gains on this sustainable development cause. this is not right. it is avoidable. let me come to something about-- we need to learn from that.
we see that pandemics widen inequalities. pandemics delay development progress. today the aids pandemic is far from over and it is the most marginalized and those at the bottom remain most at risk and our for coffee, every week, 5,500 young women in the age of 15 to 24 are infected with hiv. every week. people lbgtq, sex workers are infected with hiv. prior to covid you see the consequences for women, poor women, those who are on the
axis of inequality are worse. we know, for example, that the pandemic has put 20 million more girls out of school and many may never go back, putting them to greater risk of violence, poor health, and poverty. and because of covid, two and a half million more girls are at risk of child marriage in the next five years. i just came back from uganda, i found girls showing up for their end ever are year example pregnant, very many. so we're seeing this already happening. 70% of global health care work force are women. they have been on the front lines. pandemic response from the beginning. initially we saw them working without even the ppe that was
needed when it was caught. over 17,000 health workers have died in the past year, the majority of women. so the equalities are worse for women, for girls, for especially those living in poverty or those who may be -- where the worst impacts are. so i am proud to lead the-- calling for the vaccine to be a public good. we didn't do it without political leadership. we need u.s. leadership on global public health. you've said it very well, chelsea said it very well. president george bush led the global fight against aids, he
led. and president obama took on the world's first ebola epidemic. and president biden could be end the covid-19 pandemic. that would be a part of legacy. this week vaccine led very much by abby, we got 175 former heads of state, heads of government and nobel laureates to build on the generous and significant u.s. commitment of 20 billion to date for covid by supporting the wto, assuring investing strategically in vaccine manufacturing hubs.
we need to think about the future. we need to put the collective rights of safety for all ahead of the commercial monopolies of the few. we must reshape our economies and health system to deliver the right to health for all and tackle the deepening equalities that have been exposed and made worse by aids and covid-19. i think it's time for america to lead. back to you, melanne. >> host: well, i hear your call to action, winnie and as far as i have known you your calls for action have been right on and i'm grateful for you to lay ott the women and girls marginalized in this situation and like chelsea, helping us understand. we've been at other junctures working on epidemics and found
ways to prevail and we need to do that again. let me ask you, because you have served in your national government. you're currently at a multilateral institution, the united nations. you've served in civil is he site in the ngo world. what are your specific recommendations right now and we've heard your call to action for the united states, but what else should we be doing collectively, individually, to really enhance the distribution from the terrible situation it is experiencing now to where we need to go? >> several things, melanne. first, there is so much there that we should be building upon as we have been discussing. from our world of hiv and the health crisis like ebola, huge
social and physical infrastructure was put in place. that today the smart countries are using leveraging in order to respond to covid. one of them, one of the supporters of this infrastructure, it's a powerful platform in which to build a covid response. recently the $250 million in extra funding the u.s. has given to petfar will help with the work of aids and with regard to covid-19. whether it is laboratories, which many countries are expanding to use for covid, epidemiologists who spent the last 30, 40 years working on hiv and logistics are now
retooling and working on covid as well. activists, the whole movement that is now remobilizing and working, starting with early phase in testing pan contact tracing. we had community workers deployed in that. now, they are involved in rolling out the vaccines that are trickling in, mobilizing communities, and finding people most in need, explaining and fighting vaccine hesitancy. all of this work, behavior change, public safety, communities are doing it because they know how to do it, because they've been working at the heart of hiv. as we look to the future, and endemics are coming again and we must find a way to roll it into public health systems so
when the next one comes, we're well-prepared. that's one. and the most natural level, many mechanisms to assure equitable distribution are a factor there. take the who supposed to share intellectual property and to create-- cpac is there for using to increase production. that's there. we've spoken about the waiver. it was all in emergencies that there would be ways around it, that waivers would be brought in and not why take them in now. what we need now also in
addition to that is building the regional hub for manufacturing. the crisis has shown, has exposed the inequalities in the production of medicine. we need to build up capacity now, the capacity in the arab states, in regions, so supporting, particularly the effort of the african union to build up its capacity for manufacturing is important. that's important. and then, money, finance, i think that the system is just not doing what is needed. what it's doing is too small, it's dwarfed by the scale of the problem. what do i need. the amount that low income countries are expecting to receive through what has just been agreed are special rights
of the imf is smaller than the external payments scheduled for 2021 that will not be suspended. so it's more than this, the little sdr. is the debt suspension initiative that was extended until the end of 2021 is not enough because private creditors who are owed so much more have just been invited to collaborate, and where they may not turn up, as a result repayment over $30 billion will flow from the poorest countries, to banks, to investment funds, to governments, and banks. from poor to rich, as they struggle to survive. only the imf has announced that debt relief to 28 countries.
so we need to have the debt canceled for 2021, 2022, 2023 so that countries have the space to breathe, if i can call it so, to respond to a covid crisis. soware-- so we're not doing enough. and the system is owned by governments. again, it is governments pulling their weight together and we have to continue speaking and pulling on them, and thanks for this platform and opportunity to speak truth to power. thank you very much. >> well, you always do, winnie, and it's true that the multilateral system is composed of the national government and as you wellpointed out, this is going to take action on many levels, but it's important that we all rally to do so. stay with us from where you are in namibia and we'll get to the
q & a shortly. before we do that, i want to have us hear from congresswoman barbara lee. she represents the 13th district of california, but for today's purposes, really important purpose, that's a champion in the congress of the united states for the people's vaccine. she served on the budget and appropriations committee and the only african-american woman in the democratic leadership serving as co-chair of policy and steering. so, it's wonderful to have her join us and to hear her comments on this really critical matter. so if we can hear from congresswoman. >> thank you, for that very kind introduction. and thank you to oxfam and the
georgetown women for peace and security for inviting me to be a part of this very important event today. i am so proud to join an incredible group of leaders who have been in this fight for global health equities for, many, many years. join forces with this group of individuals makes me more optimistic than ever. that we could truly end this pandemic for everyone. the world needs a people's vaccine. we need to change course from the current vaccine mantlism that has plagued our response thus far. we simply cannot wait a year or two for the world to get access to the vaccines that we have now. according to the new england journal of medicine, current global vaccination rates won't translate to herd immunity for
another 4.6 years. as you know, we all remain vulnerable unless vaccine coverage increases globally, not just in some countries, but in all countries. i am particularly concerned about populations in africa and other low income countries, who at a minimum must protect their frontline health workers and most vulnerable populations and that's at the minimum. nations of the caribbean, bordering the united states and experiencing a spike in covid infections have received little, if any, vaccine supply. given the strong ties and frequent travel between these countries and the united states, we need to make sure that they have access to vaccines for their interests and, yes, for ours. the united states leadership in the global fight against covid-19 was late and sorely
needed. while covax was specifically designed to address the inequality that we have seen in other global health responses, the united states did not participate until congress provided $4 billion for covax. but yes, as you know, much more remains to be done, and so i have given to secretary blanken, along with our chair of the precipitations committee, chairwoman and asked him to address three pathways to address the current inequitities, much like your petition to president biden. first, the united states should publicly announce the plan to share excess doses in the near-term with countries they have not been able to access the vaccine. this should be done through a global mechanism such as covax and we should urge other g7
nations to do likewise. second, the united states should use every tool at our disposal, to prevent further scale-up of vaccine production as well as the significant investment required in health care workers to carry out these vaccinations and third, the united states should incentivize pharmaceutical countries, especially ones that benefitted from specific united states public investment to enter into production agreements with manufacturers in low and middle income countries. not only would this have the benefit of increasing supply, but would build future capacity for the next health crisis that we know will come. the united states should also clearly support trip waivers of vaccine patents in times of international health emergencies at the world trade
organization. the united states has spearheaded tremendous global health progress first against polio and diseases and then against hiv and aids. we need to show similar bold and yes, decisive action to fight this pandemic. this will require treating global health as a public good that the entire world benefits from, rather than a privilege for those who can pay for it. i'm so honored to be a part of this esteemed group and i look forward to how we look together on this important goal. once again, thank you so much for inviting me to join you today and, yes, please keep up the fight. thank you, again. >> well, we're grateful to have had the congresswoman speak to us and we value her leadership and we will continue to need her leadership and those of
others in the congress. we're going to turn now to our audience, which has many questions and i'm going to ask my colleague ali smith to kick us off with a first round. >> sure, we have many questions and group by theme. the first here is asking how do we best monitor where exactly the back-- go, what role must local governments play in ensuring access. and if you'd like to answer, physically raise your hand. >> wonderful. >> is chelsea back with us? >> did you hear the question? >> i did. >> great. who would like to start off with this? >> okay.
winnie. >> it's a very important question because not only do we have vaccine -- that we've been discussing, we have vaccine opaqueness. about prices, about the contracts being made between manufacturers and individual countries. we find, for example, shocking that a country like my own, uganda, made a deal to pay $7 per dose for the astrazeneca vaccine while it costs rich european countries just a little above $2 per dose. uganda low income paying $7, europeans paying a a little over two. then worse still, even poorer
country was going to pay $9 per dose and at the same time it's borrowing this money from the world bank at an interest rate. so, and it's already a -- so the lack of transparency is part of the problem. we in the people's vaccine alliance has been calling for transparency in the deal, in the covax arrangements, we don't have enough transparency. the board itself should have represents from civil society, from people who are affected by these illnesses that they mobilize vaccines for. they need to have more represented from people, so that people can ask the right questions and get the right
information. and we don't get to know, for example, when they're with the manufacture of a particular vaccine. we do know know whether the price offered is a real gain because of buying in bulk, or just a small drop which could be made up by the quantities anyway. so we need that transparency. and the governor's level the institutions that are involved in distributing vaccines, and then with the companies that produce themselves, we need to-- so we're building our voice around the question of transparency in the transactions of vaccines. and then second, the other area that lacks transparency is about the amounts as well. the african union, i hope i'm
not revealing some secrets here, was trying to acquire vaccines from manufacturers directly, but then they would find an agreement and then suddenly things are changing, but you can't know why they're changing, but then there are other deals on the table with the same manufacturer. so, it's hidden by opagueness. we want to use our voice as alliance and make them uncomfortable about secrecy in the transactions. that's all i can promise. we will push hard as an alliance of citizens. >> well, it's an important point. transparency. >> chelsea. >> thank you so much, melanne, and i don't know if she's with us, but how grateful i've been so congresswoman lee's leadership over many decades of tireless service and especially
her leadership on some of the issues that we're talking about here today. i think her voice is still important and still has been kind of a lonely one and i'm grateful that she seems to have a particularly persuasive power as i know more and more of her colleagues are recognizing kind of the urgecy of what we're talking about today and she's talking about tirelessly in congress. i certainly strongly agree with everything that winnie just said and think that really the example of u.n. aid and then kind of followed by the global fund of including people who are affected by the diseases that these instruments are set up to help prevent and treat and kind of steward responses to is so critically important and is something that's critically lacking as we think about covax and i want to add
my voice to what she said there. melanne, the other question from the audience, how do we track the various vaccines and yet again, i know i probably sound like a broken record here, but we know that certainly from the efforts of u.n. aid and the global funds around to prevent hiv/aids infections, for kids, second line for adults, we do tracking mechanisms in low resource settings all over the world and think of childhood immunizations similar. every country has a form of vaccine registry, some may have real gaps, but they exist and i think it's important that we here sitting here in the united states, and i know winnie, you're not, you're in namibia,
but we don't have this really misplaced hubris and ignorance to think that tracking systems don't exist around the world for kind of public health programs including vaccination efforts, even on wide scale. what we don't have enough of around the world and don't have enough of in the united states including here in new york city where i'm sitting is epidemiological surveillance. we need to be investing in capacity especially now with covid, to really be able to track the presence of variants to know kind of which vaccines provide more robust or less robust protection among the variants that are already circulating, among the variants unfortunately that probably will continue to emerge and so i just think we have to balance out kind of building on what already exists, respecting what already exists and working to really compliment what already exists with kind of what needs
to happen to help protect people's health all over the world and protect our shared global health and it's especially important given there are now, as we've discussed different vaccines against covid so we need to know which are being given where and how effective they are in helping people's health broadly and severe illness and death. >> that's another really good additional perspective on this. i think realizing we do have an infrastructure, if you will, some of it not what it needs to be, but on that and also the importance of tracking and all of this. abby, you want today add something? >> yeah, please. great points before and just to emphasize what else covid has also exposed deep longstanding inequitities in the world health all over.
so we need to be a much better job in investing in public health systems in low and middle income countries, making sure we have the ability to administer vaccine doses now and so we're prepared to respond to other countries like raj and others said earlier and includes regional vaccine manufacturing hubs that we can use for covid vaccines and would make the world more resilient in the future. >> you know, and we have heard, i think, just about from everyone some version of learning from what we've already experienced. we seem to do that so poorly and we repeat the mistakes and i think this whole lesson about what covid has exposed in terms of inequities is one we'll have to address and also to build back better. let's go to another question,
please. >> i'm group two themes of questions here. the first is looking at geopolitical considerations and vaccine production distribution. asking that their voices are arguing that they should not left m n.r.a.'s because it could benefit china and a losing argument. and also vaccine confidence and the role of pharmaceutical companies. and this is asking what would you say to well-meaning individuals who take covid seriously around the world, but are distrustful of the pharmaceutical companies involved in developing vaccines, some of which have been the development of controversy and what should pfizer and moderna be doing with the vaccine. >> also on the geopolitical
question, on the first one. while, it's true that the vaccine inequity has important national security implications, the economic and health and moral dimensions bye right now those inequities are harming u.s. interests and they're turning to chinese and russian vaccine in the absence of the u.s.-approved vaccines. so removing artificial barriers through the-- that was discussed on intellectual property rights would enhance u.s. leadership in the world and not diminish it. more than 100 countries support the-- and the u.s. should join that through a people's vaccine. >> you know, while i find-- i just have to say it deeply challenging that we kind of would ever, ever rely on
reasoning that kind of more people in more places might benefit from more vaccinations especially kind of from vaccines that might be more effective as a reason to not -- to not embrace, to advocate to support a wto waiver, a trips waiver. and so i find that quite morally repugnant, i just have to own. and, yeah, i think there are real questions not only kind of i get in the context of abby articulated, but because we actually don't know a lot about the chinese vaccines. i'm like sputnik 5, underlying data has been published, where often countries that have
purchased or received the sputnik vaccines themselves are kind of publishing kind of their population level data, we have some population data from countries that have been using the-- vaccines, but we don't have efficacy data from the trials run in china even though the chinese vaccine trials started before ours did here in the united states so these are complicated questions not only from the geopolitical reasons that were embedded in the question itself and i think abby spoke to so clearly, they're also complicated just by the juxtaposition of how much we know about not only the, you know, moderna and the pfizer vaccines, but also the johnson & johnson vaccine, what we know about the nova vaccine
and others provided they're safe and effective, from european regulators or american regulators or japanese regulators or kind of other regulators around the world, we just know so much less about the chinese vaccine so it's a really, i think, critical question from that perspective as well yet we know that none of the china vaccines are in line vaccine. given how much robust data we have how deproportionately nmra vaccines, if others would rapidly scale up productions to help people covid-19, whether
in the borders, god bless, i think that would be a great thing. >> thank you. on this question of vaccine and regulation, i think that we need -- we are suffering from a tension between big powers. now i'm speaking really as someone watching it from here where i am in geneva. i think that the russians and the chinese are interested in getting their vaccines approved by who, but it would seem that they haven't had the experience of coming before the who regulatory processes. they've not used it in the past. their experience is very
limited and the first challenges in making the right submissions to get their vaccines cleared, it's true the china were not as clear as the russians, but we're also seeing the importance of getting global who approve it so they can markets it, but i'm seeing some form of, called the vaccine diplomacy, which is so unnecessary. what we want is to maximize production for the whole safe and vaccine for the whole world. what we want, what we shouldn't have is power plays around the vaccine, the vaccines. so i would want that the who speeds up the process for these vaccines so that we can know
what is in their safety, and how safe they are and join the pool of what everybody can get even through covax and there's a need for the richer countries used to using who processes, the west, to support china and russia to be able to submit because the who, the regulator doesn't provide support to any country because it compromises its neutral position. it can't build the capacity of any company or country, but the united states could help a china company, a china company to apply because this is about having capacity to make a good application and then getting your approval through. so i think it's-- the approval process is suffering from vaccine diplomacy, which we don't need. >> so many good points.
and very sad in a way that we have come to the end of this. we never have enough time for questions because we learn so much from our speakers, our panelists and certainly that's the case today and i can't think enough for sharing your time as busy as each of you is, thank you, winnie, thank you, abby, thank you, chelsea clinton and dr. raj shah and congresswoman lee, to everyone who participated today. we've learned a great deal and we're smarter as a result of this discussion and hopefully inspired to do more, each of us, wherever we find ourselves. whether we're in government, in the private sector, whether we're with ngo's or just civic advocates and activists. everybody is needed for this
effort because we are all vulnerable and we are all in this together. and i think if we've learned anything, it is a moral necessity. it is a health imperative, it's an economic imperative. it is a matter of great urgency that none of us can afford to ignore and i hope by virtue of today's discussion, we've not only illuminated the topic, but it's moved us to greater action so i can't thank you enough and to our audience, thank you so much for joining us and the message to each of us is to do all this we can in all the ways we can every onward together. >> thank you so much, melanne. >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in on this earth day, continuing work on anti-asian hate crimes legislation and 11:30 eastern will vote on
three amendments to the bill before a vote on passage. next week lawmakers are expected to work on water infrastructure legislation. and now live coverage of the u.s. senate on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, nature speaks of your glory. with every sunrise and sunset, we are reminded