Responding to the announcement that COVAX has received more funding and is planning to accelerate its vaccine rollout, projecting it will reach 23 percent of people with COVID vaccines in mostly developing countries by the end of the year, Oxfam International’s Head of Inequality Policy, Max Lawson, said:
“More funding for COVAX and a quicker rollout of vaccines is a small piece of good news for developing countries struggling to get the doses they need, but at best fewer than a quarter of people in these countries will have been vaccinated by the end of the year.
“A lot of COVAX’s doses are donations from rich countries, which doesn’t change the fact that there aren’t enough vaccines being produced to protect the world at the speed we need.
“If pharmaceutical companies with successful vaccines were made to share their science and know how, many countries could be making their own vaccines, rather than being solely dependent on doses from COVAX. While the UK, Germany and the EU are busy vaccinating their citizens, it is totally unfair that they continue to block proposals to remove the intellectual property barriers that would allow this to happen.
“COVAX is also paying monopoly prices for the vaccines it is buying; if vaccine patents were waived prices would be far lower, meaning far more people could be vaccinated. Yet unlike the WHO, COVAX leadership have consistently failed to challenge Big Pharma monopolies or to support waiving patents.”
Notes to editors:
- The announcement of more funding and quicker rollout was made at the GAVI board meeting this week: https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/more-funds-approved-covax-vaccines-tighter-access-planned-statement-2021-06-25/
- Oxfam is part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a movement advocating that COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured rapidly and at scale, as global common goods, free of intellectual property protections and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge.
- The TRIPs waiver was tabled by South Africa and India in October 2020 to boost vaccine supplies and other COVID-19 health technologies globally. In May the US joined over 100 other countries and backed this waiver for the vaccines. France announced their support for the waiver on 10 June.
- On vaccine capacity in developing countries: India already produces 60 percent of the world’s vaccines and just over a fifth of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines to date, yet only a handful of the country’s 20 plus vaccine manufacturers are currently involved in COVID-19 vaccine production. The Director General of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has also reported that the governments of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, South Africa and Senegal have all said that they have facilities that could possibly be retooled to produce coronavirus vaccines.