Free the vaccine: Protesters rally outside of Pfizer World Headquarters in Midtown

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protesters marched carrying a gigantic needle.
Photo by Dean Moses

Protesters are demanding vaccines for all at the Pfizer World Headquarters in Midtown.

New York is beginning to see the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic with infection rates at an all-time low. As the mayor and governor begin to champion the city’s comeback through reopening ceremonies and tourism promotions, a protest group is seeking to remind vaccine giant Pfizer that there are those still suffering due to lack of access to the life-saving needle.

Dubbed “Free the vaccine,” activists are calling for the inoculation to be swiftly afforded to counties with rising death tolls. On Thursday evening, the group took their fight to the Pfizer World Headquarters on 235 East 42nd Street.

“Pharmaceutical companies are keeping the vaccine from people in low-income countries. While increasing numbers in New York City are getting vaccinated, we are still seeing huge numbers of people around the world who aren’t going to get vaccinated or who have vaccines in their country until 2024,” Emily Sanderson, Senior Coordinator at Grassroots Advocacy said, adding, “We know that every day that pharmaceutical companies and rich nations deny these vaccines, that means thousands of additional deaths happen all over the world.”

The group rallied outside the Pfizer world headquarters. Photo by Dean Moses

Brandishing a gigantic mock needle, the protesters then marched to the European Union Mission buildings, blaming the countries they represent for preventing the wide dispersal and increased production. Outside the Canada Mission on 666 3rd Avenue, the group waved signs shaped like tombstones inscribed with the names of countries suffering the most, along with their death tolls.

Sanderson claims that as third-world countries struggle to obtain vaccines, mutations of the virus are occurring making a potential of a variant that could be resistant to the vaccines.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they are still monitoring the vaccine’s resistance to variant cases, stating, “New variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are spreading in the United States and in other parts of the world. Current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States offer protection against most variants currently spreading in the United States. However, some variants might cause illness in some people even after they are fully vaccinated.”

One young demonstrator brandished two mock tombstones. Photo by Dean Moses

Sanderson and dozens of protesters have demonstrated three times outside of the Pfizer offices over the past three months, all the while stating, “We can’t let corporations come ahead of people.”

In order to represent the mass deaths in regions like India, the group fell to the sidewalk and remained motionless for several minutes while fellow protesters drew abound their bodies with chalk. Marching away, they also left the outline of their bodies behind to remind those inside the offices of the countless dead.

As they marched through Midtown, the protesters chanted, “Vaccines for all” and “People before profits.”

Protesters represented the dead. Photo by Dean Moses
Protesters represented the dead. Photo by Dean Moses