The Future is Equal

Archives for October 27, 2021

ILO report a “stark reminder” that vaccine inequality is “economic self-harm”, People’s Vaccine Alliance says

Responding to an International Labour Organisation’s report, “ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the World of Work”, campaigners have called global vaccine inequality “a collective act of social and economic self-harm”.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of more than 75 organisations including Oxfam, UNAIDS, Global Justice Now, and Amnesty International, is calling on governments to support a waiver of intellectual property rules on COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments at the World Trade Organisation, and to pressure pharmaceutical companies to share the technology and know-how behind their vaccines with the World Health Organisation.

Commenting on behalf of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, Alex Maitland, Oxfam’s Private Sector Senior Advisor:

“This report is a stark reminder that allowing COVID-19 to run rampant in the Global South is a collective act of social and economic self-harm that devastates jobs, businesses, and communities across the world. Women and young people have borne the brunt of job losses while pharmaceutical companies have reaped billions from vaccine monopolies.

“Governments like the UK and Germany, who are defending vaccine patents at all costs, must stop holding up the global recovery. If they want to avoid an ever-deepening global jobs crisis, they need to waive intellectual property on COVID-19 vaccines and force pharmaceutical companies to share their vaccine technology with the world.”

BioNTech and Moderna’s African vaccine announcements “pittance”, People’s Vaccine Alliance says

Vaccine equity campaigners have called news that Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer BioNTech will start building a vaccine production facility in Rwanda next year “far too little; far too late”.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance has also said that Moderna’s new commitment to produce 110 million doses for the African Union as “barely worth the paper it is written on” after the company failed to deliver promised vaccines to COVAX, calling on the US government to step in and mandate the company to commit to technology transfer.

The alliance, a coalition of more than 75 organisations including Oxfam, UNAIDS, Global Justice Now, and Amnesty International, has called on BioNTech and Moderna to share the technology and know-how for its vaccine with the WHO’s Covid-19 technology access pool (C-TAP) and mRNA hub in South Africa.

While the alliance calls more global south manufacturing a “positive development”, it says BioNTech’s offer of 50 million doses from the middle of next year is “pittance” compared to the amount produced in the company’s facilities in Germany.

Reacting to BioNTech’s announcement, Anna Marriott, policy lead for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said:

“After huge public pressure, BioNTech has finally committed to manufacturing vaccines in the global south. While this is a positive development, it’s far too little, far too late from a company that has made a killing from the pandemic.

“Offering to only start building a facility in Africa in the middle of next year that will then at some point produce just 50 million doses – enough for just 2 per cent of the continent’s population – is a pittance when just one of their factories in Germany produces more than that each month.

“If BioNTech really wants to change the course of this pandemic, it should immediately share the technology and know-how for this publicly-funded innovation with the WHO’s technology pool and mRNA hub in South Africa, so that more developing country manufacturers can produce these game-changing vaccines.”

Reacting to Moderna’s announcement, Anna Marriott, policy lead for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said:

“After having so far delivered zero of their committed doses to COVAX, this new Moderna Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union to at some point deliver 110 million more vaccines is barely worth the paper it is written on.

“This is a publicly funded vaccine and should be available to all as a public good. It is beyond time that the US government step in and insist the vaccine technology is shared immediately with the WHO mRNA technology hub.”



Read The People’s Vaccine Alliance full report: “A Dose of Reality: How rich countries and pharmaceutical corporations are breaking their vaccine promises“.

A report last month from Amnesty International found that large pharmaceutical companies, including BioNTech and Moderna, were fuelling an unprecedented human rights crisis through their refusal to waive intellectual property rights and share vaccine technology.

Breaking Through Red Lines Report

Oxfam Aotearoa along with Oxfam Australia, and Oxfam in the Pacific have released a new report titled Breaking through red lines. Oxfam says that the report draws attention to gaps in the latest funds announced for overseas climate action by the New Zealand government. The funds will go towards supporting efforts to reducing emissions in the Pacific.

Oxfam in the Pacific’s Climate Justice Lead Ilisapeci Masivesi says that while funds to support community adaptation and mitigation are crucial, the report shows that climate change is causing unavoidable loss and damage, which needs distinct funds to help communities recover and restore what has been lost:

“New Zealand’s recent increase in support for adaptation in the Pacific is very welcome. However, while it is a huge help, it does not address the full picture of what we are experiencing in the islands.

“At COP26, it is crucial that governments around the world listen to the voices of those on the frontlines of climate change. Communities in the Pacific have been calling for loss and damage finance for 30 years.

“My country of Fiji is among the most disaster-prone in the world. To survive we are developing solutions that help farmers to restore their crops after a cyclone or villagers to shift their entire homes because of sea level rise. Communities are mostly paying for this themselves even though they did nothing to create the problems. Rich countries that are most responsible for causing climate change, including New Zealand and Australia, need to help more and support Pacific leadership that is calling for finance solutions to compensate these unavoidable impacts globally.”

The report, which outlines the loss and damage faced across the Pacific, includes the effects cyclones and flooding are having on Fiji. Despite efforts to adapt, climate-charged cyclones and flooding causes asset losses equivalent to five percent of GDP in Fiji each year. Cyclone Winston in 2016 caused damage equivalent to 20 percent of GDP. Oxfam says that these events are becoming more frequent and more intense pushing over 25,000 people into poverty every year in Fiji.

The report also shows that loss and damage is being experienced by Māori communities within Aotearoa, and that this needs a distinct response from the New Zealand government to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Alex Johnston, Oxfam Aotearoa Campaign Lead said that New Zealand’s policy position ahead of COP26 on loss and damage focuses on avoiding and mitigating loss and damage through adaptation finance but not addressing the unavoidable loss that is already occurring:

“New Zealand’s position does not align with Pacific Island countries’ policy position. At COP26, making progress to mobilise sufficient funds to address loss and damage requires political will, as well as new and innovative sources of finance.”

“New Zealand and Australia have contributed funds to help set up insurance schemes to support Pacific Island communities recover from cyclones and extreme weather, but to be maintained these rely on payments from affected communities and on the private market to make a profit. Very little has been done to help communities cover the costs of slow-onset events like sea level rise, and what has been done is treated as adaptation – not loss and damage finance.

Johnston said, “Oxfam Aotearoa is calling for the New Zealand government to align with Pacific Island Countries’ positions on loss and damage at COP26, scale up financial support to existing loss and damage finance solutions in the Pacific, and develop distinct responses in the Climate Adaptation Act to the loss and damage that Māori experience on these shores.”

See the full report here.