This week pharmaceutical corporations lost out to Care Bears and the power of creative activism.

On Wednesday May 5, we saw our past year of creative organizing around equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines pay off in a big way.

As you know, the Center for Artistic Activism been working alongside the access to medicines movement over the past year. Through our collaborative project Free the Vaccine for COVID-19, we’ve been helping hundreds of people use creative activism to get the COVID-19 free and accessible around the world. It was looking grim, as pharmaceutical corporations were successfully making billions of dollars while billions of people outside first world countries have not had access to life-saving vaccines. 

But on Wednesday we learned that President Biden has indeed listened to our demands to support the TRIPs Waiver, and favors waiving protections on vaccine patents so that poor countries can produce the vaccines. This is a huge win for the movement and for everyone.

And since May 5th, more countries have signed on to support equitable vaccine distribution, and our collaborators have been all over the news, from the UK to Japan to Australia. The artificially inflated stock prices (propped up by monopoly agreements and government supported research costs) even seemed to begin to correct themselves.

How did artistic activism help create this huge change?

  • We created an Advocacy Innovation Lab where people were educated on access to medicines issues and artistic activism skills in a accessible and communal way.
    We helped health access organizations develop and implement new creative strategies, from ambitious objectives through surprising tactics.
  • Instead of the usual body bags and “you say X, we say Y” chants, there have been Care Bears, Dolly Parton parody songs, delicious food, and Go-Go Bands.
  • We energized hundreds of new people – artists, grandmothers, sheet metal workers and so many more – in a vibrant, global, and online community to contribute their creativity and skills over thousands of hours in the past year. While in quarantine.

Photos from our May 5 Action in DC

This was a group effort of Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 and the People’s Vaccine coalition. Photos by Nicholas Moreland.