Oxfam’s latest analysis finds that wealthy nations have purchased 51 percent of the promised doses of leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates, while representing just 13 percent of the world’s population.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating, with hundreds of thousands of lives lost and billions of people struggling to survive, pay their bills, and stay healthy, here at home and around the world. A safe and effective vaccine can be a way out of this nightmare, and researchers are racing to find it. But even that is just the first part. Ensuring that everyone can get the vaccine is also crucial.
There are nine vaccines that are currently going through the final “Phase 3” clinical trials. Five of these nine vaccine supply deals have been made public. Oxfam analyzed these five deals made by pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Gamaleya/Sputnik, Moderna, Pfizer and Sinovac and found that all five companies have already struck deals with some of the wealthiest nations around the world.
Oxfam’s latest analysis finds that wealthy nations have purchased 51 percent of the promised doses of leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates, while representing just 13 percent of the world’s population. The efforts of rich countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong & Macau, Japan, Switzerland, Israel and European Union, to adapt a “me first” approach prevents coordination and could prevent or delay the vaccine from reaching people who are at greatest risk, both living in developing countries and here at home.
These calculations expose a broken system that protects the monopolies and profits of pharmaceutical corporations and favors wealthy nations, while artificially restricting production and leaving most of the world’s population waiting longer than necessary for a vaccine.
One of the leading vaccine candidates, developed by Moderna, has received $2.48 billion in committed taxpayers’ money. Despite this, the company has said it intends to make a profit from its vaccine and has sold the options for all of its supply to rich nations - at prices that range from $12-16 per dose in the US to around $35 per dose for other countries - putting protection out of reach for many people living in poverty. While it may be making real efforts to scale up supply, according to reports, the company only has the capacity in place to produce enough for 475 million people, or 6 percent of the world’s population.
“Access to a life-saving vaccine shouldn’t depend on where you live or how much money you have,” said Robert Silverman, Advocacy Manager in Oxfam America’s Private Sector Department. “The development and approval of a safe and effective vaccine is crucial, but equally important is making sure the vaccines are available and affordable to everyone. COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere.”
Oxfam and other organizations across the world are calling for a People’s Vaccine – available to everyone, free of charge and distributed fairly based on need. This will only be possible if pharmaceutical corporations allow vaccines to be produced as widely as possible by freely sharing their knowledge free of patents, instead of protecting their monopolies and selling to the highest bidder.