The People’s Vaccine: Everyone deserves a fair shot against Covid-19

The People’s Vaccine: Everyone deserves a fair shot against Covid-19

As the Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out across Europe, the focus is on who should get it first, how to measure vulnerability to the disease and which essential workers should be top of the list.

What’s missing from the conversation is the fact that, unless governments and the pharmaceutical industry take urgent action, up to 70 low and lower middle-income countries will only have capacity to vaccinate one in 10 people against Covid-19 next year.

Wealthier nations, including Ireland, have already bought enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations almost three times over by the end of 2021! To put that in context, nations that represent just 14 percent of the world’s total population now own 53 percent of the most promising vaccines.

We need to build for a better future after Covid-19 by ensuring human rights are central to recovery efforts – however, the hoarding of the vaccine by wealthy countries lays bare nothing but inequality and exclusion.

Oxfam is a member of an alliance of organisations calling for a People’s Vaccine. This call is gaining momentum and is being backed by Covid-19 survivors, health experts, activists, world leaders past and present, including our former President Mary Robinson, faith leaders and economists.

You may not know this, but the vaccines developed by AstraZeneca/Oxford, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech received more than $5 billion in public funding during the course of the year. Surely this puts the onus on them to act in the global public interest, not just to turn a profit?

The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling on all pharmaceutical corporations working on Covid-19 vaccines to openly share their technology and intellectual property through the WHO COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) so that billions more doses can be manufactured, and that safe and effective vaccines can be available to all people, regardless of their location or income.

The Alliance is also calling on governments to do everything in their power to ensure Covid-19 vaccines are made a global public good – free of charge, fairly distributed and based on need.

When it comes to the distribution of a life-saving vaccine, no one should be excluded. However, unless something changes dramatically, a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 will remain out of the reach of billions of vulnerable people worldwide while excess supplies will lie unused in wealthier nations.

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