Late yesterday the Indian vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute, issued a statement indicating that no further supplies of vaccine for COVAX (the facility to help developing countries access COVID vaccines) will be available until the end of the year.
Meanwhile, New Zealand has enough doses to vaccinate the population at least six times over. Oxfam New Zealand’s Jo Spratt says that there is a moral obligation for New Zealand to share some of the supply for countries like India who have been hit the hardest.
“As COVAX has been supplying vaccines to the world’s poorest countries, it is devastating to think that now these countries will have to wait even longer. This disheartening development really helps illustrate how important it is for Aotearoa to step up and share more of our vaccine stockpile.”
Responding to the announcement, Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager, Anna Marriott, said:
“While the vaccination of people in India should be a priority, given the horrific toll COVID is having there, it is a huge concern that COVAX won’t be receiving any more doses until Christmas, given that Serum Institute is producing the majority of its doses.
“For months, rich country leaders have said they’re doing their bit to ensure developing countries receive vaccines by pointing to COVAX, but now their supply has effectively been turned off for the rest of the year. This comes at a time when many developing countries are facing soaring infection and death rates.
“The current approach that relies on a few pharma monopolies and a trickle of charity through COVAX is failing and people are dying as a result. It is time for those who are currently opposing a suspension of intellectual property rules, like the UK and Germany, to follow President Biden’s leadership to get more vaccines to developing countries.
“As G20 leaders prepare to meet at the Global Health Summit later this week they should consider how history will judge them for leaving the decisions of who lives and who dies from COVID-19 in the hands of just a handful of hugely profitable and powerful pharmaceutical corporations.”
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