Coalition warns wealthier countries are hoarding COVID-19 vaccines
Demand for the coronavirus vaccine in wealthier countries is projected to create a major shortage in developing nations, according to The New York Times.
Only 10 percent of people in 70 developing countries are expected to be inoculated in the next year, according to an analysis from the People’s Vaccine Alliance.
Data collected by London-based software firm Airfinity indicate wealthy nations comprising under 14 percent of the world population have bought more than half of the vaccine supply. The alliance said these countries have bought enough vaccines to inoculate triple their populations by the end of the year.
“The hoarding of vaccines actively undermines global efforts to ensure that everyone, everywhere can be protected from COVID-19,” Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, told the Times. “Rich countries have clear human rights obligations not only to refrain from actions that could harm access to vaccines elsewhere, but also to cooperate and provide assistance to countries that need it.”
Amnesty International is one of several groups comprising the alliance, which also includes OxFam, Global Justice Now and Frontline AIDS.
“Governments must also ensure the pharmaceutical industry puts people’s lives before profits,” Heidi Chow, a senior campaign and policy manager at Global Justice Now, told the newspaper.
Several countries such as India and South Africa have called on the World Trade Organization to pause enforcement of restrictions on intellectual property rights to enable access. Developing countries currently depend on the global initiative Covax to distribute the vaccine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Thursday, the week after the U.K. became the first country to approve it.
Cockburn told the Times hoarding supplies of the vaccine would represent a violation of wealth countries’ obligations to international human rights.
“Instead, by working with others to share knowledge and scale up supply, they could help bring an end to the global COVID-19 crisis,” he told the Times.
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