Oxfam: Rich Countries and Pharmaceuticals Break Vaccine Promises to Poor Countries

Wealthy countries and pharmaceuticals deliver far fewer coronavirus vaccines to poor countries than they promised. That is what Oxfam Novib development organisation reports on the basis of a study by a global coalition of NGOs.

Of the 1.8 billion corona vaccines pledged through the Covax programme, Oxfam Novib only delivered 260 million doses, or 14 percent. The Netherlands is one of the countries that fail to keep their promises.

The study, A Dose of Reality, highlights commitments made by pharmaceuticals and world leaders since the beginning of the pandemic. It turns out that since the start of the pandemic, only 0.7 percent of all vaccine doses produced have gone to low-income countries, the report said.

The number of vaccines reserved for poor countries and how many of them have been delivered:

Due to the delinquent deliveries, poor countries have suffered a major backlog in vaccination. For example, in Africa, only 2.6 percent of the entire population is fully vaccinated, compared with, for example, over 80 percent in the Netherlands.

The researchers call on world leaders to make the coronavirus vaccines available at a cost price worldwide. โ€œIt‘s time to leave the path of broken promises and protecting the profits of a small group and set a course for the fastest way out of the pandemic,โ€ they write in the report.

According to Ella Weggen of the civil society organisation Wemos also affiliated with the NGO coalition, the backlog is due to the processes of pharmaceuticals and governments of rich countries. โ€œPharmaceuticals sell the vaccines mainly to rich countries, to the highest bidder.โ€

And those governments first give priority to vaccinating their own populations, while they have generally bought more doses than they need, says Weggen. โ€œCanada, for example, has nine times more doses than residents.โ€

In

order to get more vaccines quickly in poor countries, it is important that pharmaceuticals share their knowledge about vaccine production, according to Weggen. That’s not happening right now. โ€œThe pharmaceuticals continue to stick to intellectual property, while that knowledge could be safely shared through a specially developed WHO platform. This would allow plants in low-income countries to produce the vaccines themselves, and WHO will keep an eye on quality.โ€

Weggen also agrees with WHO chief Tedros‘s plea that rich countries should not use their vaccines for a so-called ‘booster prick‘ for their own population.

Vaccination in poor countries is important not only for the health of the local population, but also in the interests of the prosperous West, emphasized Marjolein van Egmond, Professor of Immunology at the Amsterdam UMC, last summer. Otherwise, new variants of the virus eventually reach the western world as well. โ€œIt’s a long-term interest.โ€