In response to the expected emergency use authorization for Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine by the US Food and Drug Administration, Niko Lusiani, Senior Advisor with Oxfam America, made the following statement:
“The light at the end of this pandemic tunnel is getting brighter, but only if everyone, everywhere has access to the vaccine. We congratulate everyone involved in this scientific and public health breakthrough, especially those unsung heroes investing sleepless hours in laboratories and plants to make this vaccine a reality.
“And while we celebrate this moment of hope, we also face a stark reality. The US, with only 4% of the world’s population, has already bought half of Pfizer’s total expected supply in 2021. Neither Pfizer, nor its German partner BioNTech, has made any commitments to share the technology with other producers.
“At the same time, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline announced that their vaccine would not be ready until the end of 2021, which is a bitter blow for people in poorer countries who were depending on it. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline had committed to provide nearly one-third of the vaccine doses for COVAX, the global vaccine purchasing facility upon which many of the poorest countries depend.
“Even without the Sanofi delay, only one in ten people in 70 poor countries would have access to the most advanced COVID-19 vaccines next year, and that puts us all at risk.
“The coronavirus doesn’t care about borders. To save lives and our global economy, countries shouldn’t be fighting over limited supply, they should seek to expand it in every way possible, including by sharing technology and know-how of how to produce them. We must use every tool at our disposal to produce enough of the vaccines, in the shortest amount of time, to make sure everyone on this planet can get it.
“All COVID-19 vaccines must be people’s vaccines: patent-free, mass produced, distributed fairly, and made available free of charge, to every individual, rich and poor alike.
“That’s why more than 100 high-level leaders from public health, faith-based, racial justice, and labor organizations, joined former members of Congress, Nobel laureate economists and artists to sign a public letter calling on President-elect Biden to make the COVID-19 vaccine a People’s Vaccine: a global public good, freely and fairly available to all, prioritizing those most in need here at home and around the world, ensuring that companies and research institutions share vaccine technologies and know-how nationally and globally to overcome price and supply barriers.”
Notes to editors:
The public letter is available here. Signers include philanthropists Abigail Disney and Chelsea Clinton, actors Alyssa Milano, Aisha Tyler, Maz Jobrani, and Forest Whitaker, professors Joseph Stiglitz and Noam Chomsky, and activist Ady Barkan. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and former members of Congress Lynn Woolsey, Mary Jo Kilroy, Claudine Schneider, and Sander Levin also signed.
Additional analysis is available in Oxfam’s “A Shot at Recovery” that looks at the commitments made by the leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers -- AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Merck and Co., and Pfizer -- on key areas of vaccine access and equity.
Oxfam is part of The Peoples’ Vaccine campaign, which is calling for Pfizer, Moderna and all vaccine developers to openly share their intellectual property, technology and knowhow to enable the mass production of successful vaccines all over the world. The call for a People’s Vaccine is backed by past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders and economists. For more information visit: https://peoplesvaccine.org