This forms part of a series of protests taking place around the UK Jess Hurd

A protest organised by Global Justice Now (GJN) is taking place today (11/05) outside AstraZeneca’s site in Cambridge, calling for the Covid-19 vaccine to become a “people’s vaccine.”

GJN is an organisation advocating for a more “just and equal” world by pushing for equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccination.

The protests are taking place with three key aims. Firstly, protesters are calling for the vaccine to be affordable, including calling on AstraZeneca to “resist the demands of its hike the price.”

Secondly, for AstraZeneca to join the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), the World Health Organisation (WHO) facility set up to share Covid-19 technology, rather than “hiding life-saving technology.”

Finally, protesters are calling for the patent on the Covid-19 vaccine to be lifted, to enable other countries to access the vaccine.

Individuals are reported to be drumming at the protest, with some protesters sitting atop the building’s entrance and others chaining themselves to the building. Police attended the scene, and there were reports of clashes between officers and protestors at around 2:30 pm. Police have since confirmed that 4 arrests were made and have now been charged. The charges include criminal damage and assaulting an emergency worker.

One speaker at the protest also emphasised the need for an “international health service” during a Facebook livestream of the event.

Parallel protests are also planned at the AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, and also at the University of Oxford. The protests coincide with AstraZeneca’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), which took place today (11/05) at 11am.

Today’s protest follows a demonstration in March that demanded that the vaccine be rolled out “across the world”. The March protest was also organised by Global Justice Now, outside the Cambridge AstraZeneca headquarters.


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Protestor Heidi Chow was interviewed at the scene: “We want to call for the vaccine to be a people’s vaccine. We want them to share their technology, their know-how, their intellectual property with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 technology access pool.

“That way other countries can manufacture the vaccine in the quantities that are needed.” Chow highlighted that some countries are projected to only receive widespread vaccinations by 2024.

Meanwhile, Nick Dearden, Director of GJN, said in a press release: “The UK is reaping the benefits of the highly effective vaccines that are now available, but people in low and middle income countries are still dying daily by the thousands from Covid-19.”

He added: “Today, we’re demanding AZ pool this publicly created knowledge so the whole world can ramp up production of these vaccines.”

Responding to the protest and the motivations behind it, a spokesperson for AstraZeneca told Varsity: “We agree with the view that the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. AstraZeneca has risen to the challenge of creating a not-for-profit vaccine that is widely available around the world, and we are proud that our vaccine accounts for 98% of all supplies to COVAX.

“We have established 20 supply lines spread across the globe and we have shared the IP and know-how with dozens of partners in order to make this a reality. In fact, our model is similar to what an open IP model could look like.”

This article was updated at 16:03 to include comment from AstraZeneca, at 18:41 to include confirmation of 4 arrests and at 12:47 on 12/05 to include the charges.