Rich Countries Are Hoarding COVID-19 Vaccines, People’s Vaccine Alliance Warns
The People’s Vaccine Alliance has expressed concerns that richer countries are hoarding doses of coronavirus vaccines, leaving less wealthy countries struggling to access the drug.
According to the group, almost 70 lower income countries will only be able to vaccinate one in ten people, despite Oxford/AstraZeneca having pledged to give 64% of its vaccines to poorer places.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance is a network of organisations including Amnesty International, Oxfam and Global Justice Now. The group found that, even though rich nations represent just 14% of the world’s population, they have bought 53% of the world’s vaccines so far.
Discussing the matter, Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager, 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.
However, steps are being taken to distribute the vaccination fairly through the COVAX commitment – a facility ‘designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for every country in the world’.
As it stands, COVAX has secured 700 million doses of the vaccine, which will be distributed between the 92 lower-income countries that have signed up to it, BBC News reports.
Despite COVAX’s plans, the People’s Vaccine Alliance think there still won’t be enough to go round as it has found that wealthier countries have secured enough doses of the vaccine to administer to its residents three times over.
Canada in particular has reportedly ordered enough vaccines to protect Canadians five times over. However, the country had pledged to donate it’s extra doses. Talks were said to be happening between COVAX and Canada last month.
In addition to COVAX’s efforts, the People’s Vaccine Alliance is want to see pharmaceutical companies sharing their technology so more doses can be manufactured and made available to everyone who needs them.
The alliance says this sharing of information can be done through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) technology access pool.
AstraZeneca has said they will commit to making their vaccine available on a not-for-profit basis in poorer countries. The AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper and can be stored at regular refrigerator temperatures, unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which must be kept at -70°C.
Campaigners say all vaccines must be made available, as one company alone cannot supply the whole world. Pfizer-BioNTech are the only company to received approval in the UK, thought AstraZeneca and Moderna are likely to be approved soon.
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Topics: News, COVID vaccine, World News