In response to today’s announcement from COVAX that it has secured an agreement to provide nearly two billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to poor countries next year, Niko Lusiani, Senior Advisor with Oxfam America, made the following statement:
“Today’s announcement shows promise in the global community’s commitment to getting rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, no matter the income level. But the COVAX plan alone cannot guarantee full access to the vaccine for the world’s most at risk communities.
‘While it is great that COVAX may be able to access these vaccine doses, it will depend on whether the corporations agree to the right price and donors give them enough money to pay for it. Lack of transparency continues to leave too much room for doubt.
“Rich country charity and vaccine donations are not sustainable solutions to the vaccine problem. Donations of effective and appropriate excess vaccines are welcome if pooled for fair and equitable allocation according to the WHO’s framework. However, sharing the crumbs from the table does not fix the real barriers to addressing the vaccine inequality crisis. We need a people’s vaccine, not a profit vaccine.
“Even with these doses the inequality in vaccine access between rich and poor countries remains stark. The only sustainable solution is open sharing of know-how, technology and patents.
“COVAX must use its power in the market to insist on the open sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property by pharmaceutical corporations to maximize the supply of safe and effective vaccines.
“Rich country governments, like Canada and the US, should back the South African and Indian proposals to the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property rights and work in partnership with the WHO to ensure pharmaceutical corporations share their science and know-how and transfer their technology so enough vaccine can be made for everyone.”
More than 100 high-level US 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 urging 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. 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