Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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HomeWorldG7 Support For Pharma Monopolies Is Putting Millions Of Lives At Risk

G7 Support For Pharma Monopolies Is Putting Millions Of Lives At Risk


The self-interest of G7 countries is the biggest obstacle
to ending the Covid-19 pandemic, a group of campaigning
organizations said today. Ahead of the G7 Leaders’ Summit,
the People’s
Vaccine Alliance warned
that G7 promises to vaccinate
the world by 2022 will be impossible to fulfill, if
governments continue blocking proposals to waive patents and
share life-saving technology.

Last year South Africa
and India – also invited to this week’s summit in the UK
proposed
waiving intellectual property rules to allow other countries
to manufacture Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. The
proposal is supported by more than 100 states.

Of the
G7 nations, only the US has explicitly supported waiving
patents for vaccines – though not for treatments or
diagnostics – and Japan has said it will not oppose the
moves if they are agreed. Germany and the UK continue to
vehemently oppose the plan, despite its potential to
massively increase vaccine production and save millions of
lives, while Canada, Italy and France remain on the
fence.

“The English county of Cornwall, where the G7
Summit takes place, has administered more vaccinations than
22 African countries combined. This is just one example of
how the failure to fight pharma monopolies has created
staggering inequalities in vaccine access. This
unconscionable failure of global leadership must be
rectified immediately,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty
International’s Head of Economic and Social
Justice.

“The path we are currently on does not
benefit anybody. There is no way life can return to normal,
anywhere, if people in just a handful of countries are
vaccinated. There will be no end in sight until rich
countries stop hoarding vaccines, stop supporting pharma
monopolies, and start facing up to their international
obligations.”

Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s Health Policy
lead, said:

“This week G7 leaders will talk about a
global goal to vaccinate the whole world by the end of 2022.
But without commitments to waive intellectual property rules
and share vaccine technology, this will simply not be
possible.

“The G7 have a choice this week. They can
continue to defend the indefensible monopolies of
pharmaceutical giants – or they can change course, and save
millions of lives.”

The People’s Vaccine Alliance
– a coalition of organizations including Amnesty
International, Health Justice Initiative, Oxfam, Stop AIDS
Campaign and UNAIDS – has calculated
that if current trends continue, it will take the world’s
poorest countries until 2078 to vaccinate their populations.
Meanwhile G7 countries are on track to vaccinate their
populations by January 2022. By the end of May 2021, 42% of
people in G7 countries had received at least one vaccine
dose, compared to less than 1% in low-income
countries.

28% of the Covid-19 vaccines that had been
delivered by the end of May were in G7 countries, which
represent just 10% of the world’s population. The UK alone
has administered nearly twice as many jabs than the entire
African continent, despite its population being twenty times
smaller.

Increased vaccine production blocked by
richest nations

At the summit, G7 leaders are
expected to announce plans to share some surplus doses with
poorer countries, but this falls far short of what is
needed.

Crucially, G7 countries – home to many of the
largest vaccine manufacturers – have stood in the way of
proposals to waive intellectual property rules on Covid-19
vaccines, tests and treatments. Following a groundbreaking
announcement by President Joe Biden in May, the US is
currently the only G7 member which supports a waiver on
vaccines. Germany and the UK remain fiercely opposed – as
does the European Union as a bloc – while Canada, Italy and
France are undecided. Japan will not oppose the measures if
they are agreed.

There is also an urgent need for
pharmaceutical companies to share their vaccine technology
and know-how, in order to support a massive increase in
vaccine production. Vaccine developers have received over
$100 billion in public funding. To date, not a single
vaccine developer has agreed to participate in the World
Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool
(C-TAP), which was set up over a year ago to facilitate the
sharing of intellectual property and
technology.

Instead, firms including Moderna and
Pfizer are reaping huge profits, and nine new
vaccine billionaires
have been created.

Dinah
Fuentesfina, Asia and Campaign Manager at ActionAid,
said:

“G7 leaders are currently making plans to
start vaccinating teenagers. Meanwhile, the vaccine is not
even on the horizon for many of the most at-risk groups in
developing countries, including doctors and nurses who
continue to risk their lives every day.

“G7 leaders
have an opportunity to be on the side of the millions of
people who desperately need vaccines. We’re calling on the
world’s richest countries to put everyone’s health above Big
Pharma’s bottom line.”

COVAX in
crisis

Meanwhile, the much-heralded COVAX initiative
is in crisis. COVAX had distributed
77 million doses
by the end of May, just a third of its
target by that date. At its current rate of distribution,
COVAX is on track to deliver just 250 million doses by the
end of this year, equivalent to just 10% of the populations
of poorer countries taking part. As a result, countries
which relied on COVAX are rapidly running out of vaccines,
and many people who received a first dose have no idea when
or if they will receive a second one.

This supply
crisis is partly due to COVAX’s failure to use its huge
leverage to challenge pharmaceutical monopolies, and partly
because of its overreliance on supply of AstraZeneca
vaccines from India, which are now being prioritized for
domestic use. COVAX’s largest supplier recently announced
it would not be able to deliver more vaccines until later in
the year.

Donations from rich countries are urgently
needed to help save COVAX, but they will not be enough on
their own. The need for donations is a symptom of a broken
system, where vaccines have been made artificially scarce
and hugely expensive.

Fatima Hassan, Founder and
Director of Health Justice Initiative in South Africa,
said:

“Any indication that the G7 will continue to
rely on the ‘voluntary’ agreement of pharmaceutical
corporations to do the right thing, should be judged as
naïve deference to corporations that are unelected, and who
do not prioritize human rights and lives over
profits.

“We have the power to end this pandemic – we
have multiple, highly successful vaccines, and global
mechanisms in place to deliver them. All that stands between
us and ending Covid-19 are politics, vested interested and
profits based on patents.”

A real solution

The
People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling for the immediate
waiving of intellectual property, sharing of technology, and
financing for manufacturing worldwide. Alliance members have
done the detailed technical analysis
that shows that 8 billion doses could be produced in a year,
for as little as $25 billion dollars.

G7 leaders
must:

1. Agree a global goal to vaccinate
60%
of the world by the end of 2021, with everyone
reached in the next 12 months;

2. Support the
immediate suspension of
intellectual property rules
and enforce the
transfer of vaccine technology
to all qualified
vaccine manufacturers in the world;

3. Pay
their fair share of the money needed
to manufacture
billions of doses as fast as possible, and support health
systems and especially health workers, to ensure they get to
every person, free of charge.

People’s
Vaccine Photo Stunts and Protests at G7 Summit

Policy
Brief: Vaccine
Hypocrisy

Background

The
People’s Vaccine Alliance
is a worldwide movement
of global and national organizations and activists united
under a common aim of campaigning for a ‘People’s
Vaccine’ that is available to all, everywhere, free of
charge.

The Peoples Vaccine is supported by a host of
world leaders, Nobel Laureates, scientists, and religious
leaders including the Pope and the Dalai Lama. 2.7 million
people have given their support to the aims of the campaign,
and opinion
polls
have shown that 70% of the public in rich nations
support the ending of Big Pharma
monopolies.

© Scoop Media

 



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