Nearly 70 poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in ten people against Covid-19 next year if governments and pharmaceutical industry do not take proper action, warned a group of campaigning organisations today.
The organisations, including Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam, who are part of an alliance calling for a People's Vaccine, said wealthier nations have bought enough doses to vaccinate their people nearly three times over by next year.
According to a press release from Oxfam, Canada tops the chart with enough vaccines to vaccinate each Canadian five times. Updated data shows that rich nations representing just 14 percent of the world's population have bought up 53 per cent of all the most promising vaccines so far.
However, 67 low and lower middle-income countries risk being left behind as rich countries move towards their escape route from this pandemic. Five of the 67 – Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ukraine – have reported nearly 1.5 million cases between them, the press release reads.
"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, manager of Oxfam's health policy.
The People's Vaccine Alliance is calling on all pharmaceutical corporations working on Covid-19 vaccines to openly share their technology and intellectual property through the World Health Organization Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, so that billions more doses can be manufactured and safe and effective vaccines can be available to all who need them.
Heidi Chow, from Global Justice Now, said "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. Governments must also ensure the pharmaceutical industry puts people's lives before profits."
The alliance is also calling on governments to do everything in their power to ensure Covid-19 vaccines are made a global public good—free of charge to the public, fairly distributed and based on need.
Momentum is mounting for a People's Vaccine, which has already been backed by Covid-19 survivors, health experts, activists, past and present world leaders, faith leaders and economists.
So far, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has already received approval in the UK and vaccinations are beginning this week. It is likely to receive approval from other countries including the US within days.
Two further potential vaccines, from Moderna and Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca are expected to submit or are awaiting regulatory approval. The Russian vaccine, Sputnik, has announced positive trial results and four other candidates are in phase three clinical trials.
All of Moderna's doses and 96 percent of Pfizer/BioNTech's have been acquired by rich countries. In welcome contrast Oxford/AstraZeneca has pledged to provide 64 percent of their doses to people in developing nations.
Oxford/AstraZeneca deals have also mostly been made with some of the big developing countries like China and India, while the majority of developing countries have not done deals and have to share the COVAX pool of vaccines between them.
The vaccines developed by AstraZeneca/Oxford, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have received more than $5 billion dollars of public funding, which the alliance said placed a responsibility on them to act in the global public interest.