Nine out of 10 people in poor countries are on track to miss out on getting a coronavirus vaccine next year, warned a leading aid group on Wednesday.
Oxfam – part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a global coalition including Amnesty International and Global Justice Now among others – said 67 poorer nations will only be able to vaccinate one in 10 of their citizens next year.
Meanwhile, richer countries have enough vaccine doses to vaccinate their entire populations almost three times over by the end of 2021, if all the vaccines they have procured are approved by their regulators.
Canada, for example, has enough doses to vaccinate its population five times over.
The group said that countries representing 14% of the world’s population have bought 53% of the most promising vaccines so far.
The UK began deploying the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week. The US and EU are likely to approve the vaccine too in the near future. The press release said 96% of Pfizer’s doses have been bought by rich countries.
“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,” said Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager. “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.”
The alliance called on all pharmaceutical firms working on coronavirus vaccines to share their technology and intellectual property through the World Health Organization COVID-19 Technology Access Pool.
They also called on governments to make sure the vaccines are made a global public good, distributed fairly and free of charge.
Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, said: “By buying up the vast majority of the world’s vaccine supply, rich countries are in breach of their human rights obligations. Instead, by working with others to share knowledge and scale up supply, they could help bring an end to the global COVID-19 crisis.”
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