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A shot at recovery

Measuring corporate commitments towards a free, fair, and accessible COVID-19 vaccine

Publication date: 22nd April

Covid-19 anywhere is Covid-19 everywhere. That’s why we need a People’s Vaccine: patent-free, mass produced, distributed fairly, and made available free of charge, to every individual, rich and poor alike, around the world. To protect everyone, everywhere, corporations must commit to openly sharing their vaccine technology to enable billions of doses to be made as soon as possible at the lowest possible price.

Amidst troubling opacity, especially on purchasing agreements and vaccine prices, we found that the commitments made by the five leading US-funded vaccine developers highlighted in this brief, from our colleagues in Oxfam America, are far from what is needed. To address this unprecedented global crisis, we need corporations and governments to do everything in their power to deliver a free, fair and accessible Covid-19 vaccine – a People’s Vaccine.

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And we’re back – Oxfam Ireland launch volunteer appeal ahead of Northern Ireland shops reopening

  • Bag up you pre-loved items for donation – Oxfam Ireland  
  • Support people and planet by shopping at Oxfam  

26 April

This Friday, 30th April, Oxfam shops across Northern Ireland will reopen for business (and donations!) but the top priority for the organisation is new volunteers to lend a hand in their network of shops across Northern Ireland.  

Volunteers play a vital role in Oxfam’s work globally, while also providing a solution to throwaway fashion by saving items from ending up in landfills here at home. By giving a little of their time and creativity, each one makes a huge difference in support of some of the most at-risk communities in the world, while helping our planet along the way.

Trevor Anderson, Director of Trading with Oxfam Ireland, said: "As our shop teams swing back into action in preparation for their long-awaited reopening, we have launched an appeal across Northern Ireland for volunteers to join our teams. 

“I would encourage anyone interested in lending some time to make an application through our online portal - people can give as little or as much time as they like, and we provide full training. Oxfam shops are a hive of activity with plenty of opportunities to meet new people, learn new skills, and of course, have lots of fun.” 

At the end of December, Oxfam shops in Northern Ireland, along with many other local businesses closed their doors for the third time since the pandemic was declared – to their protect staff, volunteers, donors and customers and play their part in Northern Ireland’s response to Covid-19.

Anderson continued: “The loss of income during this period dealt a blow as the income our shops generate is central to supporting Oxfam's global work to beat poverty and fight inequality. However, we have amazing supporters who have helped us bounce back after each lockdown by shopping and donating to their local Oxfam shop, and we expect this time to be no different. 

“Our shop Managers are in store from Friday, 23 April, and will be accepting donations from members of the public.  We would also ask people to work with us as we reopen, to ensure everyone has a safe and positive experience when visiting our shops.

"We're really looking forward to seeing all of our staff and volunteers in store again, doing what they do best, and we're so excited to welcome our customers and donors back.

"It is because of the commitment and enthusiasm of our staff, volunteers, and supporters that Oxfam can change lives and work toward building a fairer and more sustainable world for everyone.”

Apply to volunteer with your local Oxfam shop here: https://www.oxfamireland.org/getinvolved/volunteer/apply

Find your nearest Oxfam Ireland shop here: https://www.oxfamireland.org/shop/oxfam-shops

END 

Contact

Caroline Reid | +353 87 912 3165 | caroline.reid@oxfam.org
 

Notes to the Editor

Safety measures Oxfam Ireland Shops will be taking:

  • All shops have a suite of PPE: sneeze screens in front of the tills, social distancing measures and messaging throughout the shop and a sanitation station at the entrance. 
  • Staff and volunteers will wear masks and they will have an infrared thermometer in each shop to ensure regular check-ups - as well plenty of handwashing - throughout the day. 
  • We do expect a surge in donations and have put guidelines and processes in place to manage this eventuality.  
  • As part of the overall ‘Covid Compliant Reopening Plan’ which focuses on the Health & Safety of our Staff, Volunteers, Customers and Donors we will be following the up to date government guidelines regarding the quarantining of donations 
  • All shops have had a risk assessment carried out and all staff and volunteers will be taken through Covid-19 Compliant Health & Safety training before they start their shift. 
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Big Pharma rewards shareholders with $26 billion amid vaccine apartheid

22 April 2021

As of today, there have been more than 144.5 million cases of Covid-19 recorded worldwide. By tomorrow, that number will have risen again.

But the pandemic has led to other figures increasing too, namely the bank balance of Big Pharma’s top executives and shareholders.

Over the past 12 months, the People’s Vaccine Alliance calculates that Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have paid out $26 billion in dividends and stock buybacks to their shareholders – enough to pay to vaccinate at least 1.3bn people. To help you visualise that number – that equates to the entire population of Africa.

While the global economy remains frozen due to the slow and uneven vaccine rollout, the soaring shares of vaccine makers has created a new wave of billionaires. The founder of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin, is now worth $5.9. billion and Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel $5.2 billion.

According to regulatory filings, Bancel has cashed out more than $142 million in Moderna stock since the pandemic began. Many other investors have also become billionaires in the last few months, while the International Chamber of Commerce projects a worst-case GDP loss of $9 trillion due to global vaccine inequity.

Protests are expected outside shareholders meetings today in the UK and US as investors inside present resolutions to expand vaccine access. There is a growing backlash against the de facto privatisation of successful Covid-19 vaccines and pressure on the pharmaceutical companies to share the technology and know-how with qualified vaccine producers across the world.

“This is a public health emergency, not a private profit opportunity,” said Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland. “We should not be letting corporations decide who lives and who dies while boosting their profits. We need a people’s vaccine, not a profit vaccine.

Vaccine apartheid is not a natural phenomenon but the result of governments stepping back and allowing corporations to call the shots. Instead of creating new vaccine billionaires we need to be vaccinating billions in developing countries. It is appalling that Big Pharma is making huge pay-outs to wealthy shareholders in the face of this global health emergency.

While one in four citizens of rich nations have had a vaccine, just one in 500 people in poorer countries have done so, meaning the death toll continues to climb as the virus remains out of control. Epidemiologists are predicting we have less than a year before mutations could render the current vaccines ineffective.

One of the reasons Pharma companies have been able to generate such large profits is because of intellectual property rules that restrict production to a handful of companies.

Last week, 175 former heads of state and Nobel Prize winners, including former president Mary Robinson, Francois Hollande and Joseph Stiglitz wrote to US President Joe Biden to support the temporary waiving of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to enable the rapid scale-up of vaccine production across the world.

They join the 1.5 million people in the US and other nations who have signalled their support for a People’s Vaccine.

More than 100 low- and middle-income nations, led by India and South Africa, are calling at the World Trade Organisation for a waiver of intellectual property protections on Covid-19 products during the pandemic, a move so far opposed by the US, EU and other rich nations. The Biden administration is reportedly considering dropping US opposition to the waiver, with a US Trade representative saying at the WTO that “the market once again has failed in meeting the health needs of developing countries”.

The next TRIPS waiver meeting at the WHO is on Friday, 30 April. If you believe in vaccine equality, and that no person should be left behind, you can take action today.

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Volunteer with your local Oxfam shop

Volunteers Needed!

At the heart of Oxfam Ireland Shops, there is a network of dedicated staff and volunteers – all working together to beat poverty. They play a vital role in supporting Oxfam’s work - and now our global response to Covid-19 – while also providing a solution to throwaway fashion by saving items from ending up in landfills across the island of Ireland. They are planet and people protectors.

Chrissi, one of our incredible Managers, reflects on working at Oxfam on Botanic Avenue in Belfast as she gets ready to reopen shop doors after months of closure. We hope it inspires you to volunteer with your local Oxfam shop.

Q: How long have you worked with Oxfam Ireland?
A: Almost three years - I started managing the shop in Lisburn and now run the Oxfam Vintage shop on Botanic Avenue.

Q: What was your motivation for applying for the job?
A: I have an interest in sustainable fashion and love clothes. I only buy second hand clothing and feel that fast fashion is a real issue. I’m motivated by raising money that goes towards helping others.

Q: How did it feel to have to close your shop?
A: When we were told we had to close I felt apprehensive for the charity sector as a whole and concerned for vulnerable people in the community.

Q: What did you miss the most?
A: I’ve missed the craic from customers and volunteers and of course the fun of never knowing what you will get donated.

Q: What are you looking forward to when you reopen your doors?
A: I’m looking forward to getting the shop into order again and seeing how all the volunteers and regular customers have been.

Q: What is the best thing about working in a charity shop?
A: There are so many things that make it a great place to work. I love my job because I get to meet and work with a diverse range of people and see that people really do care about each other. Of course I’m also obsessed with clothes so get to shop whilst working!

Q: What has been your best moment in the shop?
A: We have had lots of great moments but a real highlight was when two Iranian volunteers got their asylum granted after a long wait. For them to finally have freedom to move forward was lovely to see.

Q: How can people help your business bounce back?
A: By donating good quality items to our shops. If you're like me and you did a massive clear out, we will happily take it! In doing so you are preventing goods ending up in landfill. Of course you can also help by shopping in our shops to find that unique bargain!

Q: Is there anything you would like to say to your customers and/or volunteers?
A: We have uncertain times ahead of us but kindness in the community is so important.

Oxfam shops in Northern Ireland reopened for business on Friday 30 April and are accepting donations.

Oxfam shops in the Republic of Ireland will reopen on Monday 17 May in line with Government regulations.

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Hundreds of NGOS call on governments to increase aid to prevent global hunger crisis

  • UN warning of “famines of biblical proportions” goes unheeded with only five percent of food security appeal funded

20 April 2021

Today, more than 200 NGOs published an open letter calling on all governments to urgently increase aid to prevent over 34 million people from being pushed to the brink of starvation this year. 

A year on since the UN warned of “famines of biblical proportions”, rich donors have funded just five percent of the UN’s $7.8 billion food security appeal for 2021, while globally, world food prices reached a seven-year high in February of this year.

At the end of 2020, the UN estimated that 270 million people were either at high risk of, or already facing, acute levels of hunger. While 174 million people in 58 countries have reached that level already and are at risk of dying from malnutrition or lack of food, and this figure is only likely to rise in coming months if nothing is done immediately.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “While both the Irish government and public have been consistently generous in their support of aid efforts, global funding is not keeping pace with the increasing need - even with extreme hunger crises looming for millions more people across the world.

"Conflict is the biggest driver of global hunger, which is also exacerbated by climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic."

From Yemen, to Afghanistan, South Sudan and Northern Nigeria, conflicts and violence are forcing millions to the brink of starvation, with many people living in conflict zones sharing horrifying stories of hunger and the impact on food supplies.

Fayda from Lahj governorate in Yemen says: “When humanitarian workers came to my hut, they thought I had food because smoke was coming from my kitchen. But I was not cooking food for my children – instead, I could only give them hot water and herbs, after which they went to sleep hungry.”

Nearly two out of every five families in Yemen buy food and medicines using debt, according to Oxfam research, which revealed that Yemeni families are trapped in a cycle of informal debt, living precariously and reliant on good will as they lurch from one month to the next.  

Amb. Ahmed Shehu, Regional Coordinator for the Civil Society Network of Lake Chad Basin said: “The situation here is really dire. Seventy percent of people in this region are farmers but they can’t access their land because of violence, so they can’t produce food. These farmers have been providing food for thousands for years – now they have become beggars themselves. Food production is lost, so jobs are lost, so income is lost, so people cannot buy the food. Then, we as aid workers cannot safely even get to people to help them.” 

Clarken Concluded: "Ireland, as a recently elected member of the UN Security Council, now has an important role in promoting respect of international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians in time of armed conflict.  

"At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic the UN Secretary General called for a global ceasefire to address the pandemic but too few leaders have sought to implement it.

“Together, we must now push global leaders to support durable and sustainable solutions to conflict, and open pathways for humanitarians to access communities in conflict zones to save lives.”

ENDS

Contact

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | 087 912 3165

Notes to the Editor


QUOTES FROM NGO LETTER SIGNATORIES:

Oxfam International Executive Director, Gabriela Bucher said:  

“The richest countries are slashing their food aid even as millions of people go hungry; this is an extraordinary political failure. They must urgently reverse these decisions. And we must confront the fundamental drivers of starvation – global hunger is not about lack of food, but a lack of equality.”  

David Miliband, CEO and President of the International Rescue Committee, said:  

“The worsening rate of global hunger is horrifying to witness. Every day we are seeing the human cost of hunger play out in the countries where we work. World leaders must act now to prevent unprecedented levels of suffering, through increased funding and diplomatic efforts to end conflict and improve humanitarian access.” 
 
CARE International Secretary General, Sofía Sprechmann Sineiro said:  

“Whether Yemen, Syria or the DRC, funding to respond to the hunger crisis is not materializing. Yet trillions are invested in rescue packages for corporates all over the world. Donors must step up. It is not a matter of affordability; it is a matter of political will. CARE’s evidence base tells us that for every dollar women earn, 80 cents go back into the family, compared with 30 cents of every dollar men earn. Gender inequality is a key predictor of the occurrence and recurrence of armed conflict. If we fail to grasp this simple fact, we will fail to prevent or effectively counter famine. 

Save the Children’s CEO, Inger Ashing said:  

"We have warned donors over and over again – their inaction is leading to death and despair among children, as we see in countries across the globe every single day. A pledging conference for Yemen in early March did not even raise half of the funds needed, and that country is at a tipping point. It’s painful, because governments have the money. That thousands of children will be dying of hunger and disease in 2021 is a political choice – unless governments radically choose to help save the lives of children.”  

The Danish Refugee Council Secretary General, Charlotte Slente said:  

“Among the growing number of refugees and displaced persons, lack of access to food severely worsens an already critical situation. DRC calls on all governments to act now to prevent global hunger from adding further destitution to the world’s most vulnerable groups of people.”

World Vision International President & CEO, Andrew Morley said:  

“Let me be direct: there is no place or excuse for famine in the 21st century. The fact we have reached this point shows there has been a clear and catastrophic moral failure by the international community. A generation of girls and boys needs us to bring hope, supporting and empowering them to reach their full potential. Children of the world are looking to us to act.” 

Interim CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide,Tufail Hussain, said: 

“Cutting aid in the middle of a pandemic is morally abhorrent and risks rolling back decades of development. Failure to act now will cast a shadow over generations to come, as malnutrition affects young children’s cognitive and physical development for the rest of their lives. The world must not wait for famine to be declared before helping people who are starving right now. We are calling for global solidarity to end hunger and stand with the world’s poorest people.”

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International, said:  

“We are witnessing a devastating global hunger crisis, which will hit girls and women the hardest. In countries like South Sudan, we are already hearing reports of hunger-related deaths and families going entire days without food. Others are making heartbreaking choices, marrying their daughters early or saving what little food they have for working members of the household. It is critical that world leaders step up and provide more funding for humanitarian assistance – otherwise, we risk millions of avoidable deaths.” 

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