Wed 09 December 2020:
A new report has found that as many as 90 percent of the population in dozens of poorer countries will miss out on the coronavirus vaccine next year because most of the supply has already been taken by rich nations.
Rich nations, home to 14 percent of the global population, have bought 53 percent of the total stock of the most-promising vaccines as of last month, said the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition including Oxfam, Amnesty International and Global Justice Now.
They said pharmaceutical companies working on Covid-19 vaccines should openly share their technology and intellectual property through the World Health Organisation (WHO) so more doses can be manufactured.
According to Oxfam, Canada has bought enough doses to vaccinate its population five times over.
South Korea, another leading world economy, has bought sufficient vaccine for 88 percent of its population of more than 50 million people.
Meanwhile, the Philippines, considered a developing country, has so far secured only 2.6 million doses for delivery next year. That only covers 1.3 million people out of its total population of more than 100 million.
“No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in, or the amount of money in their pocket,” Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy chief, said.
“But unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 for years to come.”
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“This shouldn’t be a battle between countries to secure enough doses,” Mohga Kamal-Yanni, an advisor for People’s Vaccine Alliance, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“During these unprecedented times of a global pandemic, people’s lives and livelihoods should be put before pharmaceutical company profit,” she added.
While high-risk groups in Britain received on Tuesday the first shot of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, most people in 67 low- and lower middle-income countries including Bhutan, Ethiopia and Haiti, risk being left behind, they said.
Among the three Covid-19 vaccines for which efficacy results have been announced, almost all the available doses of two of them – Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech – have been acquired by rich countries, the Alliance report said.
While AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have pledged to provide 64 percent of their doses to people in developing nations, that would only reach 18 percent of the world’s population by next year “at most,” it added.
The campaigners used data from science information and analytics company Airfinity to analyse the deals done between countries and eight leading vaccine candidates, including China’s Sinovac and Russia’s Sputnik V.
The EU, United States, Britain, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, New Zealand, Israel and Kuwait have acquired 53% of these potential doses – with Canada buying enough to vaccinate its population five times over, Oxfam said.
“By buying up the vast majority of the world’s vaccine supply, rich countries are in breach of their human rights obligations,” Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice, said in a statement.
The United Kingdom started rolling out its vaccine on Tuesday, becoming the first country in the world to administer the much-anticipated inoculation against a disease that has already infections millions of people around the world and killed about two million others.
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