More than 80 per cent of global supplies of the breakthrough Covid-19 vaccine have already been bought up by the world’s wealthiest countries, campaigners warned yesterday.
Although they represent only 14 per cent of the world’s population, the richest nations have snapped up more than one billion doses of the Pfizer vaccine, out of the 1.35 billion that the US pharmaceutical transnational says it can produce by the end of next year.
This will leave poorer countries with shockingly limited access to the vaccine.
According to campaign group Global Justice Now (GJN), the biggest purchasers include the European Union, with 200 million initial doses and an option for a further 100 million, the United States, with 100 million and an option for a further 500 million, and Britain, with 40 million.
GJN director Nick Dearden said: “On the one hand, the British government is helping limit supply of these drugs by insisting on global patent rules that prevent countries producing their own generic vaccines.
“On the other, it is buying up as much of that limited supply as it can, so there are no vaccines left for developing countries.
“You couldn’t get a clearer example of how unequal the pharmaceutical system is – some make billions of pounds, while many others die because they cannot afford treatments or there are no more left for them to buy. It’s got to change.”
Mr Dearden warned that unless the “stranglehold of these massive corporations over our medicines” is broken, “the injustice will continue.”
International medical aid NGO Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) pointed out that the deals done by the British government were shrouded in secrecy.
Spokeswoman Rosie Slater said: “The eventual licensing and approval of Covid-19 vaccines means very little if they’re not available to the people in the priority groups that need them across the world, especially in low and middle-income countries.
“As a step towards this, MSF is calling on governments, who have collectively given billions, to demand transparency from pharma companies on Covid-19 vaccine licensing deals, costs, trials and data as a condition of their funding.”
She added that the terms of Britain’s deal with Pfizer — and of the government’s four other deals with pharma firms — have not been made public.
This article was originally published in Morning Star, newspaper of the Communist Party of Britain