Rich nations break COVID Vaccine Donation Promise: People’s Vaccine Alliance

VACCINE inequality stifles progress in the fight against COVID19 as a report shows that out of the 1.8 billion vaccine donations pledged, only 261 million jabs have been received by recipients

The report, “A Dose of Reality,” found that of the 1.8 billion COVID vaccine donations promised by rich nations only 261 million doses – 14 per cent – have been delivered to date, while western pharmaceutical companies have delivered only 12 per cent of the doses they allocated to COVAX, the initiative designed to help low- and middle-income countries get fair access to COVID vaccines.

“The countries of the African Union (AU) collectively have a population that is three times larger than the countries of the EU. Yet the African Union Vaccine Acquisition Trust, a vaccine procurement platform, has only been able to purchase 100 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson and Johnson. By contrast, the EU has been able to purchase nearly 1.5 billion doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson, or approximately 15 times the number of doses compared to the AU,” the People’s Vaccine Alliance said.

The Alliance added that to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are universally available, affordable, and free of charge at the point of care as soon as possible, they are calling  on world leaders to. “Suspend intellectual property rights by agreeing to the proposed waiver of the TRIPS Agreement at the World Trade Organisation.

“Demand and use all legal and policy tools to require pharmaceutical corporations to share COVID19 data, know-how, and technology with the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool and WHO-South Africa mRNA Technology Transfer Hub without restrictions.

“Invest in decentralised manufacturing hubs worldwide to move from a world of vaccine scarcity to one of vaccine sufficiency in which LMICs have direct control over sufficient production capacity to meet their needs. 4. Immediately redistribute vaccines equitably with all countries to achieve the WHO target of vaccinating 40 percent of people in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70% of all people by mid2022.”

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said: “Rich nations and corporations are shamefully failing to deliver on their promises whilst blocking the actual solution; ensuring developing nations have the ability to make their own vaccines.

“It is painfully clear that the developing world cannot rely on the largesse and charity of rich nations and pharmaceutical companies, and hundreds of thousands of people are dying from COVID-19 as a result. This is beyond appalling.”

The UK Government, which has been actively blocking calls from countries like South Africa and India to be allowed to make their own vaccines, has only delivered 9.6 million – less than 10 per cent – of the 100 million doses it promised to poorer nations. Meanwhile it has itself taken half a million doses from COVAX, despite extreme vaccine shortages in developing countries and having already secured more than enough doses for British people from direct deals with the pharmaceutical companies. Canada has taken over 970,000 doses from COVAX, while delivering only 3.2 million – or 8 per cent – of the 40 million doses it promised. Germany, another country blocking the waiver, has delivered 12 per cent of the 100 million doses it promised and France has delivered just 9 per cent of the 120 million it promised. The US has delivered the most doses – nearly 177 million doses – however this is just 16 per cent of the 1.1 billion promised.

The Alliance said that while COVAX failed to acknowledge that relying on pharmaceutical companies may not deliver doses, the companies have undermined the initiative, first by not allocating it enough doses and second by delivering far less than they agreed. Of the 994 million doses allocated to COVAX by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Pfizer/BioNTech, only 120 million -12 per cent- have actually been delivered, which is fifteen times less than the 1.8 billion doses delivered to rich countries from these companies. Both Johnson & Johnson and Moderna are yet to deliver a single dose they promised to the initiative.

Oxfam’s Robbie Silverman said: “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 small number of pharmaceutical companies, who are prioritising their own profits.

“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.

“The only way to end the pandemic is to share the technology, and know-how with other qualified manufacturers so that everyone, everywhere can have access to these lifesaving vaccines.”

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