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  • 3 mins read time
  • Published: 21st October 2021
  • Blog by Joanne O'Connor

Here’s a dose of reality – Big Pharma and wealthy nations have delivered just 14% of Covid vaccines promised to low-income countries

21 October 2021

Wealthy nations and Big Pharma have failed to donate billions of doses they pledged to developing countries while continuing to block solutions to vaccine inequality, the global People’s Vaccine Alliance has found.

In its new report, A Dose of Reality, it reveals that of the 1.8 billion Covid-19 vaccine donations pledged by developed nations, just 261 million doses – or 14 percent – have been delivered so far. Moreover, western pharmaceutical companies have delivered just 12 percent of the doses they allocated to COVAX, the initiative designed to help low- and middle-income countries get fair access to vaccines.

Closer to home, Ireland has donated just 335,500 (26 percent) of the 1.3 million vaccines it promised to low-income countries.  The EU – including Ireland – has so far refused to support the proposal by more than 100 nations to waive patents on vaccines and Covid-related technologies, while major pharmaceutical companies have failed to share their technology with the World Health Organisation (WHO) so that developing countries can make their own life-saving vaccines.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, said: “Developed nations like Ireland and pharmaceutical companies are shamefully failing to deliver on their promises while blocking the actual solution; ensuring developing nations have the ability to make their own vaccines.

It is painfully clear that the developing world cannot rely on the largesse and charity of developed nations and pharmaceutical companies, and hundreds of thousands of people are dying from Covid-19 as a result. It should be clear by now that we can’t donate our way out of this pandemic.

A Dose of Reality outlines that of the 994 million doses allocated to COVAX by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Pfizer/BioNTech, just 120 million (12 percent) have been delivered. This equates to 15 times less than the 1.8 billion doses delivered to rich countries by these same companies.

Neither Johnson & Johnson nor Moderna have yet delivered a single dose.

Mr Clarken added: “The failure of rich country donations and the failure of COVAX have the same root cause – we have given over control of vaccine supply to a small number of pharmaceutical companies who are prioritising their own profits.

<p>These companies can’t produce enough to vaccinate the world, they are artificially constraining the supply, and they will always put their rich customers at the front of the line. The only way to end the pandemic is to share the technology and know-how with other qualified manufacturers so that everyone, everywhere can have access to these lifesaving vaccines.</p>

Collectively, the four companies claimed they would manufacture an estimated 7.5 billion vaccines in 2021. However, with less than three months until the end of the year, they have delivered just half this number. Forecasts suggest the companies will produce 6.2 billion vaccines by the end of the year, a 1.3 billion shortfall on their projections.

Jim Clarken said: “Across the world, health workers are dying and children are losing parents and grandparents. With 99 percent of people in low-income countries still not vaccinated, we have had enough of these too little, too late gestures. Governments must stop allowing pharmaceutical companies to play god while raking in astronomical profits and start delivering actual action that will save lives.”