Italy: Protests slam G20 health summit, demand free, universal vaccines

May 27, 2021
G20 protest in Italy on May 25. Photo: Potere al Popolo/Facebook

Progressive sectors in Italy demonstrated at the Global Health Summit in Rome, which took place on May 21–22, to demand free and universal vaccination against COVID-19.

Organisations such as Potere al Popolo (Power to the People, PoP), the Party of Communist Refoundation (PRC), Giovani Comuniste e Comunisti (Young Communists, GC), Communist Youth Front (FGC), Unione Sindacale di Base (USB) and the Italian Communist Party (PCI) took part in the demonstrations.

Progressive trade unions also held a health workers’ strike on May 21, demanding an end to profiteering from the pandemic and precarious working conditions.

PoP organised protests across the country on May 22, highlighting the demands of vaccines for all, public healthcare, social justice and for the right to work and dignity.

The Global Health Summit focused on coordinating worldwide efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic and was co-chaired by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Leaders from the G20, the European Union, and 15 international and regional organisations, including the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), participated in the summit. 

Ahead of the protests, PoP national spokesperson Giuliano Granato said: “Faced with a system that is as unfair as it is threatening to our very survival, we must reverse course, starting with making patents on vaccines fully public.

“While the world’s powerful parade in Rome for the G20, we must unite to ensure that our interests are heard. Our own lives are at stake.”

“The majority of the Italian people are in favour of breaking the patent system on vaccines. Our governments are speaking on behalf of a tiny minority, Big Pharma, and not on behalf of their own people.”

The FGC slammed the summit, saying it was a gathering of 20 major capitalist powers to celebrate the successful management of the pandemic, while in reality “multinational profits have been placed before the health of millions of people around the world” and “millions of people are still excluded from access to vaccines, on which they continue to make a profit”.

The GC said: “Vaccines must be guaranteed to everyone, from India to Italy, from South Africa to Germany, because health is not a commodity but a right.”

USB said the neoliberal Draghi government has already obliterated health workers in the country.

The protesters also criticised the more than €200 billion National Recovery and Resilience Plan approved by the Draghi government. accused the government of using the health emergency as a weapon to raise the profits and power of large companies, do private business with public money and further reduce the welfare state and labour rights.

[Abridged from People’s Dispatch.]

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