We are living at a moment where COVID-19 pandemic continue raging on, with new and more dangerous variants emerging driving each cycle of a new wave of infection spike globally. Growing calls are demanding for an end of vaccine monopoly but rather equal distribution, access, and not-for profit “people’s vaccine”.
Humana People to People support the People’s Vaccine Alliance in advocating for a COVID-19 to be available everywhere, for all and free of charge. It is clear, COVID-19 pandemic will not end until most of the world is vaccinated. Each passing day, we are helplessly seeing poor and medium-income countries battle with a public health catastrophe. The Delta variant has already led to a “pandemic among the unvaccinated.” The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine is no longer questionable; abundant evidence available is increasingly supporting that when one is fully vaccinated chances are high one can reduce the risk of loosing life after contracting coronavirus.
By the 16th of August, World Health Organisation reported that COVID-19 has officially infected over 200 million people and killed over 4 million worldwide. Despite rising infections and deaths across many developing countries, Pfizer/ BioNTech and Moderna have allocated more than 90 per cent of their COVID-19 vaccine supplies to rich countries.
According to the Great Vaccine Robbery report by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, Big Pharma is deliberately blocking increased production while inflating vaccine prices. New estimates of the cost of production for the successful mRNA COVID vaccines suggest they can be produced for as little as $1.18 a dose. This “vaccine apartheid” is a tragedy impacting negatively developing countries and coming back in a loop to hit back the developed countries one way or the other.
Breaking monopolies and enabling generic competition is a proven route to increased production and reduced prices of vaccines and medicines. Rich country governments must stop blocking and start supporting the fastest and cheapest route to global vaccination.
They must insist the vaccine technology and know-how is shared with the WHO’s COVID Technology Access Pool, and agree a temporary waiver of intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organisation for all COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests.
It is worrisome to note the trend ongoing in which national government budgets that could be paying for more health workers or used to tackle hunger are instead contributing to the creation of extreme wealth for the Big Pharma billionaires. Since the start of the pandemic, Moderna, BioNTech and CanSino have created at least nine new vaccine billionaires with a combined net wealth of $19.3 billion.
Corporate profiteering, along with vaccine hoarding by wealthier capitalist countries, threatens to possibly extend the pandemic for years. Until the vaccines become a “global public good” and Big Pharma shares vaccine technology freely, the world’s population is in danger.
Without a high level of global vaccination, the pandemic threatens to continue to ravage the world for years to come. The time for a “people’s vaccine” is now.