COVID vaccines, unkept promises
According to the most recent report from The People’s Vaccine alliance, developing countries have suffered the consequences of unkept promises both from wealthy countries’ governments and pharmaceutical companies, which have not delivered millions of doses of vaccines against COVID-19 which had been agreed, in addition to them blocking any real solution that could resolve unequal access to vaccines in the world.
The report, titled A dose of reality, reveals that, out of 1.8 billion vaccines promised by developed countries, only 14% (261 million) have been delivered so far, reported by The People’s Vaccine in a press release.
In addition, pharmaceutical companies have supplied only 12% of the ones that were assigned to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Fund (COVAX), an initiative that was designed to guarantee that middle and lower income countries had a fair access to vaccines.
To this slow progress we must add the fact that the European Union and other wealthy countries have rejected the proposal of more than 100 countries to release COVID-19 vaccine patents and other technologies (such as treatments). For their part, pharmaceutical companies have refused to share information with the World Health Organization so that developing countries can develop their own treatments.
Inequality in numbers
The Alliance points to countries like the United Kingdom, which “has been energetically ignoring pleas for help from countries such as India and South Africa to be allowed to manufacture their own vaccines”, and has only delivered 9.6 million out of the 100 million vaccines they promised to poorer countries. However, they have received half a million doses from COVAX, despite having more than enough doses for the country ‘s population, thanks to agreements with pharmaceutical companies.
Canada and the United States are two more examples of inequality. The first has received more than 970 thousand doses from COVAX, but has only supplied 8% (3.2 million out of 40 million agreed) to poorer countries. Even though the United States is the country that has donated the most vaccines (177 million), it has only delivered 16% from the 1.1 billion promised.
Because of this, The People’s Vaccine Alliance demands five actions from governments and pharmaceutical companies:
- Ensure the vaccine is sold to governments at real cost and that it is administered to people at no cost to them.
- Avoid monopolies in the production of vaccines and treatments, conditioning company research funding to sharing all information on their products freely.
- Making sure the vaccine is sold at affordable prices, established transparently.
- Implementing a fair vaccine distribution which prioritizes health workers and people at risk in all countries, as well as distributing vaccines based on each country’s population size.
- Ensuring full participation from governments and civil society from developing countries in the forums in which COVID-19 vaccines and treatment decisions are made.
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