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March 29, 2021

You may have heard that poorer countries across the globe are not going to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine for a loooong time. If you live in a rich country, why should that matter to you?

The short answer: because the pandemic can't truly end in one place if it doesn't end in all places. Oh, and also because it's the right thing to do. 

Today on the podcast, we welcome back guest Priti Krishtel, co-founder and co-executive director of global medicine access organization, I-MAK. Priti has been working for nearly two decades in the movement to create a more equitable and just medicine system for all, and COVID-19 is the perfect case study for why I-MAK's mission is to fix the broken patent system that keeps affordable drugs out of reach for so many. 

Today on the podcast, we discuss the process countries undertake to secure vaccine supplies for their citizens and how that money-driven process advantages richer countries while disadvantaging poorer ones. Priti talks about existing global efforts to create vaccine equity, and how they have fallen short due to the greed of both pharma companies AND countries like the US. We also dive into how our antiquated customs around patents and intellectual property in pharmaceuticals create a huge hindrance to addressing a global pandemic with any useful speed, and why that will hurt ALL of us in the long run. Lastly, Priti discusses the lessons we can learn from other countries' handling of the pandemic, and particularly countries in the Global South, and what's ahead in the fight for global, equitable access to medicines.

[NOTE: This interview was recorded on February 16, 2021. Details of the progress of global vaccine deployment may have changed slightly between the recording date and this podcast's release date in late March 2021, but broad themes remain the same.]

Resources:

- Priti's New York Times Op-Ed: How the Patent and Trademark Office Can Promote Racial Justice 

- The Overwhelming Racism Of COVID Coverage by Indi Samarajiva

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