Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Vaccine Failure

 Finance ministers from the G20 countries released an eight-page joint communique (pdf) declaring that they "recognize the role of Covid-19 immunization as a global public good and reiterate our support to all collaborative efforts..."

But the document does not call for a temporary suspension of vaccine-related intellectual property rights, which have kept production largely under the control of profit-driven pharmaceutical companies.

More than 100 countries worldwide have backed the patent waiver proposal. 

While Argentina and Indonesia have joined South Africa and India in supporting the waiver, the remaining G20 member nations—including the U.S., U.K., and Canada—have been either non-committal or actively opposed to the idea, leaving the deeply unequal status quo intact. The result has been a disaster for low-income nations, many of which are struggling to administer a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine as rich countries—where the world's largest pharmaceutical companies are based—hoard much of the existing supply.

Daniel Willis of the U.K.-based advocacy group Global Justice Now said "...the reality is that G20 countries have privatized the medical knowledge behind Covid vaccines, artificially limiting supply and preventing most of the world producing the vaccines we so desperately need." Willis added, "They should have taken this moment to commit to putting the health of people across the world ahead of Big Pharma's profits." 

"Rich countries are defending the interests of the pharmaceutical sector over other businesses and their economies as a whole," said Anna Marriott, Oxfam's public health manager. "It is a bizarre act of financial and economic self-harm. They are condemning everyone including their own citizens to suffer the consequences."

Scientists have warned that failure to swiftly ensure global distribution of the coronavirus vaccine could allow vaccine-resistant variants to emerge and spread among unprotected populations, causing further devastation for developing countries and prolonging the deadly pandemic for the entire world.

On top of the human costs of denying vaccines to poor nations, Oxfam International pointed out Tuesday that vaccine inequities could inflict enormous economic damage, costing the world up to $9.2 trillion in income losses.

"The U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Japan, and Italy together could lose as much as $2.3 trillion in GDP this year unless they stop fighting on behalf of a handful of big drug companies to retain the intellectual property of the vaccine—despite this status quo plainly failing both them and everyone else," Marriott added. "It totally beggars belief."

G20 Nations Slammed for Calling Covid Vaccines a 'Public Good' While Denying Them to the World | Common Dreams News

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