Rich countries buy up majority of COVID-19 vaccine doses, People’s Vaccine Alliance says

According to the alliance, 70 poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in 10 people against COVID-19 next year after rich countries bought up most prophylactics.

COVID-19 vaccine

According to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, data shows that rich nations representing just 14 percent of the world’s population have bought up 53 percent of all the most promising COVID-19 vaccines so far.

The alliance says that nearly 70 poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in 10 people against COVID-19 next year unless urgent action is taken by governments and the pharmaceutical industry to make sure enough doses are produced. By contrast, wealthier nations have bought up enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over by the end of 2021 if those currently in clinical trials are all approved for use. Canada tops the chart with enough vaccines to vaccinate each Canadian five times, the alliance highlights. 

The organisations in the alliance, including Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam, used data collected by science information and analytics company Airfinity to analyse the deals done between countries and the eight leading vaccine candidates. They found that 67 low and lower middle-income countries risk being left behind. Five of the 67 – Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine – have reported over 1.5 million cases between them.

“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.

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.”

According to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, all of Moderna’s doses and 96 percent of Pfizer/BioNTech’s have been acquired by rich countries. In contrast, Oxford/AstraZeneca has pledged to provide 64 percent of their doses to people in developing nations. However, despite their actions to scale up supply they can still only reach 18 percent of the world’s population next year at most. 

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 (WHO) 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.

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.