An alarming report authored by Oxfam International in collaboration with a group of other human rights organizations warned that only one in 10 people in poor countries are set to receive coronavirus vaccines in 2021, while rich nations have “hoarded” three times the amount of doses that they actually need.
Speaking to RT about the findings, Max Lawson, the head of inequality policy for Oxfam International, said it was unacceptable for wealthy nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom to “protect the profits and intellectual property and monopoly” of pharmaceutical giants in a bid to ensure that they have enough doses for themselves. He noted that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which has already been approved for use in the UK and Canada, received generous government support during its development. As such, the jab should be viewed as “public property” and its “recipe” should be shared in order to facilitate cheap, mass production of the drug, Lawson argued.
The vaccines themselves are owned by the public. They are a public good. It seems crazy to us to invest all this private money only to privatize the outcome and privatize the profits for huge companies like Pfizer.
According to Lawson, Pfizer is selling its vaccine at an 80 percent profit, preventing less developed countries from acquiring the potentially life-saving drug. He said that while it would be unreasonable to expect that the vaccine would be “given away for free,” such a profit margin is “way beyond what is reasonable.”
The Oxfam head predicted that Pfizer and other large pharmaceuticals would face mounting pressure in the coming months if poorer countries continue to be left behind as governments scramble to acquire doses.
It is not in the interest of Pfizer to be seen to be putting profits ahead of dead Mexicans or dead Brazilians.
He said he was hopeful that more affordable alternatives to the Pfizer jab, such as vaccines developed by China, or Russia’s Sputnik V, could offer a “lifeline” to developing countries.
Ultimately, the world must aim to create “a people’s vaccine, not a profit vaccine,” Lawson observed, stressing that rich nations must use their “power and leverage” to ensure inoculation against Covid-19 is affordable for people everywhere.
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