In separate virtual addresses to the shareholders of Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Oxfam called on the pharmaceutical corporations to improve COVID-19 vaccine equity and access so that everyone, everywhere has access to these life-saving shots.
Oxfam’s resolutions to Moderna and Pfizer call on the companies to study the feasibility of transferring vaccine technology and know-how to urgently ramp up production and improve sustainable access around the world. In a separate resolution before Johnson & Johnson shareholders, Oxfam seeks transparency on how the company determines pricing for its COVID vaccines in light of the billions of dollars of public funding from US taxpayers the company received.
Oxfam has urged all three vaccine manufacturers to share their technical know-how with the World Health Organization (WHO) to leverage the world’s full manufacturing capacity and support regionally based production as a means to increase the overall supply, reduce on-the-ground distributional challenges, and respond to the desire of low-and middle-income countries to produce doses for their own citizens.
“If Moderna worked with us, we could submit the WHO’s COVID-19 Vaccine mRNA Technology Transfer hub’s vaccine for approval at least one year sooner, which would save lives, decrease the risk of variants, and reduce the pandemic’s economic toll,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, in his unprecedented presentation of the Oxfam resolution to Moderna shareholders via a pre-recorded statement. “We urge Moderna to share technology and know-how with the WHO hub and commit to not enforcing patents for COVID-19 and other essential vaccines in countries hosting the WHO hub and spokes. We also urge them to offer training to scientists working on those efforts through the Moderna mRNA access program.”
“We are in the midst of the greatest public health crisis in 100 years. Despite safe and effective vaccines like Pfizer’s, thousands of people are still dying every day because protections against the coronavirus have not been made accessible to all,” said Ady Barkan, Founder and Co-Executive Director of Be A Hero, presenting the Oxfam resolution to Pfizer shareholders via recording. “Billions of people remain unvaccinated in part because Pfizer cannot produce enough doses on its own. And yet, Pfizer refuses to share its technology to boost global manufacturing.”
JNJ’s COVID-19 vaccine has protected people against severe illness and saved lives—yet the company has not done enough to ensure equitable access and transparency about its pricing strategy, despite the massive investment of 1.5 billion dollars in public funds that JNJ received,” said Maaza Seyoum, Global South Convener, People’s Vaccine Alliance, presenting the Oxfam resolution to Johnson & Johnson shareholders via recording. “This injustice has heartbreaking consequences. Millions of grandparents and healthcare workers across Africa are not protected from this virus. In India alone, over two million children have lost a parent to the pandemic. These lives matter.”
Oxfam filed the shareholder resolutions because more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and a year after the introduction of highly effective life-saving vaccines, 74 percent of people in high-income countries are fully vaccinated, while just 12 percent of people in low-income countries are.
The failure of major pharmaceutical companies to do more to ensure vaccine equity and access threatens the companies’ reputations and the interests of corporate investors who are impacted by the pandemic’s continued impact on the global economy, in addition to the devastating toll in illness and death.
“Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson have prioritized short-term profit-making over long-term sustainability and reputational risks, as well as public health needs. The flawed donation-based model has produced vast vaccine inequity, despite the desire, willingness, and ability for countries around the world to produce their own doses for their own citizens,” said Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America. “We are proud to partner with Dr. Tedros, Ady Barkan, and Maaza Seyoum to urge shareholders to realize that a model based on tech sharing and local production will not only help end the current pandemic but also make the world more resilient for the future.”