More than a dozen doctors from Harvard Medical School held a protest outside the home of Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, urging the company to share its Covid-19 vaccine technology with the rest of the world.
The doctors gathered on Wednesday afternoon at the home in Beacon Hill in Boston, Massachusetts in front of a pile of fake human bones. The doctors also criticised President Joe Biden and his administration for not forcing the company to share its technology with other companies on a global scale. They also slammed what they argued was the inadequate size of US commitments to send vaccine doses abroad.
Moderna has previously said that they won’t enforce patents while the pandemic is still taking place.
“What we are calling on people to do is stand up and say ‘enough is enough,’” Dr Joia Mukherjee said. “We have the technology. We need to transfer that technology to places that are well prepared to produce vaccines.”
“There are places that have the political will and the ability to do this if only we would share,” she said. “And legally Mr Bancel’s company must share because they received your taxpayer money to develop this vaccine. And therefore, President Biden has the ability to demand that.”
The Biden administration has not made any demands of the companies producing Covid-19 vaccines and an organiser said a separate protest was being held outside the home of White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain to demand that the administration put pressure on the vaccine-producing companies.
“Sadly, the global aspects of this pandemic have been treated by President Biden and Ron Klain as a PR opportunity rather than a global crisis,” Dr KJ Seung said. “At the Biden-UN Covid summit last week, it was all platitudes, pageantry, no hard plans.”
On 22 September, Mr Biden announced that the US would be doubling the amount of Pfizer vaccine doses the administration would buy to share with the world with the goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of the world population – 7.9 billion people – within the coming year. The total number of doses that the US will share with the rest of the world through 2022 is now more than 1.1 billion.
“To beat the pandemic here, we need to beat it everywhere,” Mr Biden said. “For every one shot we’ve administered to date in America, we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world.”
An administration official told The Independent: “We are working with the US companies, helping them find tech transfer sites abroad and putting our resources on the table to support it. This is already paying off with doses for the world.”
“Our Quad partnership with India, Australia, and Japan that is on track to produce at least one billion vaccine doses of J&J by the end of 2022,” the official added, and also noted the administration’s support for vaccine manufacturing in South Africa and Senegal.
Dr Seung said that the Biden administration has spent less than one per cent of the $16bn afforded to global vaccine production by Congress in March.
“If that money had been used starting in March, by now we could definitely have enough manufacturing capacity to produce eight billion doses,” he said.
Dr Seung added that the doctors want the Biden administration to use their powers and funding capabilities to boost production of the Moderna vaccine to as many eight billion doses a year by 2022, and to pledge to donate 100 million doses a month to the rest of the world.
“The world’s current shortage of Covid-19 vaccines is really the result of deliberate policy choices and not some kind of inherent scientific or engineering or logistic limitation,” Dr Rebecca Zash said. “Millions and millions of people are going to die, people that just happen to live in a different country.”
The Independent has reached out to Moderna for comment.