The cause for a free, universally available and accessible vaccine for all even more relevant as global stats show failings
Ever since the beginning of COVID, one question raged amongst scientists, health professionals, and citizens of all countries: the question of a vaccination. Who would produce it, how much would it cost, could it be done- and who would profit most heavily?
The scale of the COVID pandemic is on such levels, as the designation would suggest, that the necessity of a vaccine distributed fairly, openly, and with economic inequality in mind is of paramount importance.
However, only 0.1 per cent of doses administered worldwide have been administered in “low-income” countries, while “high-income” countries (16 per cent of the world’s population) account for more than half of the doses injected.
As early as 2020, WHO chief Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus Adhanom told reporters, “The gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich countries, and the number of vaccines administered through COVAX is growing every single day, and becoming more grotesque every day.
“The world’s poorest countries wonder whether rich countries really mean what they say when they talk about solidarity,” he added.
The People’s Vaccine is a global movement in itself, taking that issue of accessibility and inequality of distribution directly to manufacturers of the vaccinations themselves.
Their beliefs is “Available to all, everywhere, free of charge.”
Aims include to ensure the vaccine is purchased at true cost prices and provided free of charge to people; and perhaps most importantly to,
“Implement fair allocation of the vaccine which prioritizes health workers and other at-risk groups in all countries. Distribution among countries should be based on their population size. In-country vaccination programmes should include marginalized groups, including refugees, prisoners, and people living in slums and other crowded housing conditions. Allocation between and within countries should be based on need and not ability to pay.”
Recently, Global Justice Now have called for an end to patents on vaccinations, with similar beliefs to the wider People’s Vaccine movement.
The campaigning group’s director, Nick Dearden, said: “Scientists at Oxford University, a publicly-funded institution, developed this life-saving vaccine through a research and development process that was 97% publicly funded.
“The resulting vaccine should have been openly accessible to everyone, but AstraZeneca swooped in and privatised it.”
Nick Dearden claimed the company had “boycotted attempts to pool the vaccine knowledge they control” and said AstraZeneca had not joined WHO’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, which facilitates and enables the sharing of technology for vaccines and treatments.
A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said: “AstraZeneca has risen to the challenge of creating a not-for-profit vaccine that is widely available around the world, and we are proud that our vaccine accounts for 98% of all supplies to Covax.”
Protests organised by the organisation saw some Stirling University students from the Global Justice Stirling society head down to Macclesfield, one of the locations of AstraZeneca’s offices in the UK.
Ludovico Caminati, President of the GJS Society at Stirling said in response to AstraZeneca’s claims they have sold the drug at cost that, “How can this be when they are selling the vaccination at around £2 to the EU, but selling it at double or more the price in South Africa, and quadruple the price to India.”
“First of all, it is not cost price in our view, and secondly even if it was cost price, there are countries in the global South that just cannot afford the vaccination at any price. It must be made free for all, but mostly the countries where it is so desperately needed and so ill afforded.”
“Not for profit is just a very misleading way of saying it’s being sold at cost production, which is not good enough for these countries with poorer governments who cannot afford to put a price on their lives.”
“It was important to us to attend the protest and show solidarity with all movements that hope to end patents and profiteering from all COVID vaccinations.”
Feature Image Credit: Global Justice Society Stirling