Firms and rich nations continue to block moves to share vaccine technology and recipes
Developing countries have been hit with an endless tide of inadequate gestures and broken promises from rich countries and pharmaceutical companies, who are failing to deliver billions of doses they promised while blocking the real solutions to vaccine inequality, according to a new report published today by the People’s Vaccine Alliance.
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.
At the same time, the EU and countries including Germany and the UK, have refused to support the proposal of India, South Africa, and over 100 nations to waive patents on vaccines and COVID related technologies while leading pharmaceutical companies have failed to openly share their technology with the World Health Organization to enable developing countries to make their own vaccines and save lives.
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. The US has delivered the most doses – nearly 177 million doses – however this is just 16 per cent of the 1.1 billion promised
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 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 15 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.
“Global vaccine inequality is the biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and ensuring a strong economic recovery worldwide,” said Brittany Lambert, Oxfam Canada’s Women’s Rights Policy Specialist.
“COVID-19 is destroying livelihoods and women are hardest hit since they are in the worst-paid, least secure jobs. Half a billion people, of which twice as many are women than men, are now under-employed or out of work because of this virus. We clearly can’t rely on trickle-down vaccine charity. The only way out of this pandemic is to share the technology and know-how with other qualified manufacturers so that everyone, everywhere can have access to these lifesaving vaccines.”
During the UN General Assembly in September, President Biden rallied support for the goal to vaccinate 70 per cent of people in every country by September of 2022. While this target is rightly ambitious, the People’s Vaccine Alliance says it should be achieved much more quickly, and there is still no plan to achieve it.
The WHO stated that it must be a global priority to get doses to developing countries by the end of this year, but the Alliance says rich countries are not listening and working to a timetable of delivering an inadequate supply of doses by some time in 2022, which is likely to lead to countless unnecessary deaths.
To deflect growing pressure to share their vaccine technology free of intellectual property restrictions leading western pharmaceutical corporations have consistently over-exaggerated their projected production volumes, claiming there will soon be enough for everyone while delivering the overwhelming majority of their stock to rich nations.
Collectively, the four companies claimed they would manufacture an estimated 7.5 billion vaccines in 2021, yet with less than three months until the end of the year, they have only delivered half of these. Forecasts suggest the companies will produce 6.2 billion vaccines by the end of the year, a shortfall on their projections of more than 1.3 billion doses.
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 them to stop breaking their promises to vaccinate the world and to:
- Suspend intellectual property rights for COVID vaccines, tests, treatments, and other medical tools by agreeing to the proposed waiver of the TRIPS Agreement at the World Trade Organization.
- Demand, and use all their legal and policy tools to require pharmaceutical companies to share COVID-19 data, know-how, and technology with the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool and South Africa mRNA Technology Transfer Hub.
- Invest in decentralized manufacturing hubs in developing countries to move from a world of vaccine monopolies and scarcity to one of vaccine sufficiency and fairness in which developing countries have direct control over production capacity to meet their needs.
- Immediately redistribute existing vaccines equitably across all nations to achieve the WHO target of vaccinating 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent of people in all countries by mid-2022.
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Notes to editors:
- All statistics are reference available in the full report available here.
- The headline stats that rich nations have only delivered 14 per cent of promised doses refers to doses donated by the G7 and ‘Team Europe’ which includes the EU, Norway and Iceland.
- So far COVAX has received directly from pharmaceutical companies:
- 104 million (14 per cent) of the 720 million doses promised by Oxford/AstraZeneca
- 16 million (40 per cent) of the 40 million promised by Pfizer/BioNTech
- Zero doses of the 200 million promised by Johnson & Johnson
- and zero doses of the 30 million promised by Moderna
- Only 1.3 per cent of people in Low Income Countries are fully vaccinated.
- Airfinity forecast that Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Pfizer/BioNTech will produce 6.2 billion doses by the end of the year, a 17 per cent shortfall of the original forecasts, which translates into more than 1.3 billion missing vaccine doses.
- A new video from The People’s Vaccine Alliance is available here.
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