Make equality real: Join the match challenge

Make equality real: Join the match challenge

Broken vaccine promises drag out pandemic

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Nearly half of the COVID-19 vaccines sold by AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson have gone to high-income countries, even though they only comprise 16 percent of the world’s population. Emily Eberly / Oxfam America

As pharmaceutical corporations fail to make enough doses, the People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling for governments to waive intellectual property rights and expand vaccine production to more parts of the world.

Governments and pharmaceutical corporations are breaking their promises to donate COVID-19 vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries, all while blocking real solutions to increase vaccine access around the world, according to a new report from the People’s Vaccine Alliance.

The report, A Dose of Reality, says governments are failing to deliver on their pledges to provide vaccine doses to COVAX, the global initiative designed to make the vaccine available to all countries. So far, wealthy nations have delivered only 14 percent of the 1.8 billion doses promised, and pharmaceutical companies have delivered only 12 percent of the doses they pledged to help low- and middle-income countries. Worse than that, a number of rich countries, especially the UK and Germany, have refused to support proposals from India, South Africa, and more than 100 nations to waive patents on vaccines and COVID-19related technologies.

The report also states that leading pharmaceutical companies have failed to openly share their technology with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to enable developing countries to make their own vaccines.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance’s report says pharmaceutical companies have undermined COVAX, firstly by not allocating it enough doses, and secondly by delivering far less than they pledged. Of the 994 million doses promised to COVAX by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Pfizer/BioNTech, only 120 million have been delivered--15 times less than the 1.8 billion doses delivered to rich countries from these companies. Both Johnson & Johnson and Moderna have yet to deliver a single dose they promised to the initiative.

As a result, 49 percent of the vaccines sold by AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson have gone to high-income countries, even though they only comprise 16 percent of the world’s population. Moderna has sold 86 percent of its doses to high-income countries.

“The failure of rich country donations and the failure of COVAX have the same root cause: We have given over control of vaccine supply to a tiny number of pharmaceutical companies that are prioritizing their own profits,” says Robbie Silverman, Oxfam’s senior manager for private sector advocacy. “These companies can’t produce enough to vaccinate the world, they are artificially constraining the supply, and they will always put their rich customers at the front of the line.”

What G20 countries can do to end pandemic

With a week to go before leaders meet for the G20 summit in Rome, The People’s Vaccine Alliance--which has 77 members, including ActionAid, the African Alliance, Global Justice Now, Oxfam, and UNAIDS--is calling on governments to stop breaking their promises to vaccinate the world and to:

  • suspend intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments by agreeing to the proposed waiver of the TRIPS Agreement at the World Trade Organisation.
  • require pharmaceutical corporations to share COVID-19 data, know-how, and technology with the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool and WHO-South Africa mRNA Technology Transfer Hub without restrictions.
  • invest in decentralized manufacturing hubs worldwide to move from a world of vaccine monopolies and scarcity to one of vaccine sufficiency in which developing countries have direct control over production capacity to meet their needs.
  • immediately redistribute vaccines equitably across all nations to achieve the WHO target of vaccinating 40 percent of people in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent of people in all countries by mid-2022.

“The time has come for governments to decide if they want to continue down a road of broken promises and leave a legacy of loss and suffering, or to find a new way forward that can protect all people,” the Dose of Reality report concludes. Making vaccines available to all, it says, will “provide the fastest exit route from the pandemic.”

An effective vaccine can be the way out of this pandemic, but only if everyone can get it as soon as possible. Urge President Biden and pharmaceutical corporations to share the technology and speed up vaccine production.

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