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Calls for global vaccine equity as omicron variant is discovered in U.S.

Victims of COVID-19 were remembered at a vigil highlighting the need for access to vaccines.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A group held a vigil in New Haven Wednesday evening to remember the lives lost to COVID-19. In the glow of candles lit to honor those who died, people shared their own stories of family and friends.

"Her mom had always welcomed me into their family like a daughter," said Francesca Maviglia, who remembered her best friend's mother.

"She was actually supposed to get her first dose a week after she started getting her first symptoms, so it was very unfortunate," she said.

RELATED: Local officials continue to encourage people to get COVID-19 booster shots

Living in Morocco, the vaccine rollout was slower and less accessible than in Italy where Maviglia's own mother contracted COVID-19 the same month. She was vaccinated and recovered quickly.

"This exemplifies the type of gap that we see and the inequalities between the global south and the global north in terms of COVID vaccine equity," Maviglia said.

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She is among those calling on the World Trade Organization to wave intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.

"Which would temporarily suspend restrictions on vaccine patents and vaccine technologies and make them widely accessible," said Lauren Danielowski, with the group, Justice is Global.

"It's essential. Global vaccination is like the path forward to ending the pandemic," she said.

VERIFY: No, there isn’t a new test to detect the omicron variant

The group said the discovery of the Omicron variant and its presence in the U.S. proves there is more work to do.

"As long as a significant portion of the global population is unvaccinated it's basically just a breeding ground for variants that can then spread to the rest of the world then we have to start all over again," Maviglia said.

The event was part of a global day of protest calling for vaccine equity.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at gmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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