Rich countries hoarding vaccines, pushing out poor, says alliance

Bangkok Desk, Dec 9 (efe-epa).- As wealthy countries hoard stockpiles of Covid-19 vaccine doses, most people living in poor countries are set to miss out on inoculations next year, the People’s Vaccine Alliance warned Wednesday.

While rich countries stockpile enough doses to inoculate their entire population nearly three times over, almost 70 poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in 10 people in 2021, the group said.

Canada tops the list of hoarders, having enough doses to vaccinate its entire population five times over. Meanwhile, 67 low and lower middle-income countries risk being left behind, despite five of those – Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine – having reported nearly 1.5 million cases between them, it said.

“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. 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,” said Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager, in the statement.

People’s Vaccine Alliance is a global coalition made up of organizations including Oxfam, Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, and Global Justice Now as well as health experts, world leaders and economists. It advocates for safe and effective vaccines to be made available for free to every person in the world.

The aliiance is pushing for pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge patent-free.

“All pharmaceutical corporations and research institutions working on a vaccine must share the science, technological know-how, and intellectual property behind their vaccine so enough safe and effective doses can be produced,” Heidi Chow from Global Justice Now said.

The most-anticipated vaccines are being developed by the United Kingdom’s Oxford University/AstraZeneca, the United States’ Pfizer with Germany’s BioNTech, the US’ Moderna, and the Russian Gamaleya (Sputnik V). China is also developing vaccines.

All of Moderna’s doses and 96 percent of Pfizer/BioNTech’s have been acquired by rich countries, the alliance said.

Oxford-AstraZeneca, developing the cheapest of the four, has promised to make 64 percent of its doses available to developing nations, however the alliance said that “despite their actions to scale up supply they can still only reach 18 percent of the world’s population next year at most.”

It has also done deals with large developing countries such as China and India, with the majority of developing countries having signed no agreements and having to share the COVAX pool, it added.

“The current system, where pharmaceutical corporations use government funding for research, retain exclusive rights and keep their technology secret to boost profits, could cost many lives,” said Dr Mohga Kamal Yanni from the People’s Vaccine Alliance.

On Dec. 8, experts from the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held a virtual meeting to exchange best practices on policies and to identify opportunities for collaboration on Covid-19 vaccines, including practical aspects of vaccine authorization, production, and distribution.

“This webinar dialog on vaccine further deepens and facilitates innovations in health cooperation between ASEAN and EU, and further builds a robust relationship in the exchanges of policies towards affordable, fair and equitable access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines,” Kung Phoak, deputy secretary general of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, said in a statement after the meeting. EFE-EPA


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