NEWS: Sanders Calls on WTO Members to Stop Delaying Vaccine Waiver Decision as Group Postpones Critical Meeting

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Tuesday issued the following statement amid developing reports of the new Omicron coronavirus variant and the recent move by the World Trade Organization to postpone a major Ministerial Conference in Geneva:

“Nearly a year since vaccinations began to roll out here in the U.S. and while too many of our neighbors around the world still are blocked from accessing life-saving vaccines, the time for debate by the members of the World Trade Organization is over. As we face the potential threat of a new coronavirus variant, we must move even more urgently to dismantle the vaccine inequality that undermines our ability to confront this crisis. We cannot postpone or delay. It’s time for the WTO and our world leaders to step up, to finally put people over profits and make the vaccine technologies available to all, regardless of wealth.

“Let us be clear: to deny life-saving health care anytime, but particularly during a global health crisis, is unacceptable. Our vaccination efforts will only be successful if vaccination efforts in the developing world happen simultaneously. This waiver would not only save lives, but protect against new variants that threaten the progress we have made. This is exactly the kind of leadership the world needs right now. We must work together to get this done.”

Working with activists and colleagues in Congress, Sen. Sanders has called on the WTO multiple times already this year to waive international intellectual property (IP) rules to boost production of COVID-19 vaccines around the world, including letters urging the Biden Administration to take action.

Read the November letter to President Biden here.
Read the April letter to President Biden here.