Coronavirus: Rich nations are monopolising vaccines, says Oxfam
Saturday, 19 September 2020
Credit: Retha Ferguson/Wikimedia
A small group of rich nations have already bought up more than half of all vaccines expected to be produced in the near future, leaving most of the world’s population with very little, according to the development NGO Oxfam.
There are currently five leading candidates for a vaccine against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease known as Covid-19. Oxfam studied the contracts that have already been signed between manufacturers and governments, including the European Commission, which is negotiating on the part of the 27 member states of the EU.
The NGO found that 51% of the first wave of production of all of the vaccines together have already been earmarked for countries that represent only 13% of the world’s population. Put another way, 87% of the population will have to make do with 49% of the vaccines available.
And things will hardly get better once the top table has been served, Oxfam found.
“Even in the extremely unlikely event that all five vaccines succeed, nearly two thirds (61 percent) of the world’s population will not have a vaccine until at least 2022,” the NGO said in a press release.
“It’s far more likely some of these experiments will fail, leaving the number of people without access even higher.”
Oxfam is now joining with other development organisations to call for a People’s Vaccine, free and provided according to need.
“This will only be possible if pharmaceutical corporations allow vaccines to be produced as widely as possible by freely sharing their knowledge free of patents, instead of protecting their monopolies and selling to the highest bidder,” Oxfam said.
One of the leading candidates for a vaccine, Moderna, has stated clearly it intends to make a profit from its vaccine, despite having received €2.48 billion in public funding. Moderna will charge $12-16 per dose in the US, and up to $35 elsewhere.
Moderna has already pledged 100% of its initial production to rich customer nations. On the other hand, AstraZeneca has promised two-thirds of its first run to developing nations. The only problem is that the company, despite outsourcing, will still only be able to supply 38% of the world’s population – and half of that if it turns out its vaccine requires a double dose.
“Governments will prolong this crisis in all of its human tragedy and economic damage if they allow pharmaceutical companies to protect their monopolies and profits,” said Chema Vera, executive director of Oxfam International.
“No single corporation will ever be able to meet the world’s need for a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s why we are calling on them to share their knowledge free of patents and to get behind a quantum leap in production to keep everyone safe. We need a People’s Vaccine, not a profit vaccine.”