Vaccine policies by Western pharmas inflaming Africa crisis

2021-09-22 21:53:55
Vaccine policies by  Western pharmas inflaming Africa crisis

Major Western pharmaceutical companies at the helm of the global Covid-19 vaccine roll-out are fueling an unprecedented human rights crisis because of their refusal to waive intellectual property rights and share vaccine technology, with most of the companies failing to priorities vaccine deliveries to poorer countries, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

In the 64-page report, A Double Dose of Inequality: Pharma companies and the Covid-19 vaccines crisis, Amnesty investigated six of the companies that hold the fate of billions of people in their hands: AstraZeneca plc, BioNTech SE, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer. The findings paint a dismal picture of an industry that is woefully failing to respect human rights.

Out of 5.76 billion doses administered worldwide, a minuscule 0.3% have gone to low-income countries, with almost 80% being delivered to upper-middle and high-income countries. Despite calls to prioritize and collaborate with COVAX, the international initiative attempting to ensure a fair global vaccine allocation, some of the companies have instead continued to top up vaccine supplies for wealthy countries already known to be hoarding vaccines.

Vaccine developers fail in human rights

Amnesty reviewed each of the big pharma companies' human rights policy, vaccine pricing structure, their records on intellectual property, knowledge and technology sharing, the allocation of available vaccine doses, and their overall transparency - finding that, to differing degrees, all six of the vaccine developers had failed to meet their human rights responsibilities.

To date, the companies in Amnesty's report have refused to take part in international initiatives designed to boost global supply by sharing knowledge and technology. They have also opposed proposals to temporarily lift intellectual property rights, such as the World Trade Organisation Trade Related Intellectual Property Rules (TRIPS) Waiver proposed by India and South Africa.

Pfizer , BioNTech to earn $86 billion

The report gives an example of Pfizer and BioNTech have so far delivered nine times more vaccines to Sweden than to all low-income countries combined. High prices mean the companies are set to earn more than $86 billion in revenue by the end of next year.

Amnesty International also notes that Moderna has not yet delivered a single vaccine dose to a low-income country, has provided just 12% of its vaccines to lower-to-middle-income countries, and will not deliver the vast majority of its promised supplies to COVAX until 2022. Higher prices mean the company is set to earn more than $47bn in revenue by the end of 2022.

The report points out that Johnson & Johnson has developed the world's only single-dose vaccine and sells at cost price, yet it will not deliver the vast majority of its commitments to COVAX and the African Union until 2022. It has also refused to grant a license to a Canadian manufacturer offering to manufacture millions more doses.

According to the report by Amnesty International, AstraZeneca has delivered the most vaccines to lower-income countries, sells at cost price, and has issued some voluntary licenses to other manufacturers. However, it has refused to openly share its knowledge and technology with WHO initiatives and has opposed the TRIPS Waiver.

Blocking knowledge

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International's Secretary General, said:

"Vaccinating the world is our only pathway out of this crisis. Now should be time to hail these companies - who created vaccines so quickly - as heroes.

"But instead - and to their shame - big pharma's intentional blocking of knowledge transfer and their wheeling and dealing in favor of wealthy states has brewed an utterly devastating vaccine scarcity for so many others. “Their actions are plunging parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia into renewed crises, pushing weakened health systems to the very brink and causing tens of thousands of preventable deaths every week. In many low-income countries not even health workers or at-risk people have received the vaccine."

"Their actions are plunging parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia into renewed crises, pushing weakened health systems to the very brink and causing tens of thousands of preventable deaths every week. In many low-income countries not even health workers or at-risk people have received the vaccine."

Comments(0)
Success!
Error! Error occured!