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More than a million COVID deaths in 4 months since G7 leaders failed to break vaccine monopolies

At the current vaccination rates, low income countries would be waiting 57 years for everyone to be fully vaccinated.

More than a million people have died from COVID since The Group of Seven (G7) leaders met back in February 2021. The leaders had made vague pledges to increase the global vaccine supply, but failed to collectively back the waiver of intellectual property rules and investment in manufacturing vaccines in developing countries.

As G7 Health Ministers meet today for talks ahead of the Leaders’ Summit next week, The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling on the G7 to stop making empty promises and protecting the interests of pharmaceutical companies, and instead take urgent action to close the massive vaccine void between their nations and poorer countries.

New calculations from the Alliance, which includes Health Justice Initiative, Oxfam, and UNAIDS, found that last month people living in G7 countries were 77 times more likely to be offered a vaccine than those living in the world’s poorest countries. Between them, G7 nations were vaccinating at a rate of 4.6 million people a day in May, meaning, if this rate continues, everyone living in G7 nations should be fully vaccinated by 8 January 2022. At their current rate – vaccinating 63,000 people a day – it would take low income countries 57 years to reach the same level of protection.

Of the 1.77 billion doses of COVID vaccines given globally, just 0.3 per cent of COVID jabs have been given in low-income countries – despite the fact G7 and low-income countries have a similar population size. 

Executive Director of Oxfam Aotearoa Rachael Le Mesurier said that although the world is holding its breath waiting for our G7 leaders to step up, we must not forget that the New Zealand government has a moral duty to build on the actions taken to date:

“New Zealand has been a leader during this terrible pandemic; across the globe, world leaders and whole populations are looking to us to see what we will do next. This is the perfect opportunity for our Prime Minister to use her position to help those in need.

“This is about real concrete support for the People’s Vaccine; this is about lifting the brakes and speeding up the production of vaccines faster so we can reach more people in need sooner. This is also about the massive amount of vaccines our own government has stockpiled – enough to vaccinate our population almost six times over. If we hold these vaccines back from those who urgently need them – we are just helping the virus mutate until there is a variant our vaccines can’t stop. New Zealand will not be safe until we are all safe.”

While some G7 members claim they have done their bit by pledging doses or funding to COVAX, the initiative, which was set up to help developing countries access COVID vaccines, is massively failing. COVAX has delivered less than a third of the doses it promised to by the end of May and the Alliance warned that at the current rate, it is likely to reach only 10 per cent of people at best in developing countries by the end of the year.

Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager, said: “It is obscene that the UK, Germany and other rich countries, which are able to vaccinate their own people, are preventing poor countries from making the doses they need to save lives.

“The sad fact is developing countries cannot depend on COVAX or the good will of the pharma industry to save the lives of their people. G7 leaders must take this moment to stand on the right side of history by putting their full support behind the vaccine patent waiver supported by more than 100 countries. The G7 may be getting the vaccines they need but too much of the world is not and people are paying for patent protection with their lives.”

Of the G7 nations, only the US are backing the proposal at the WTO to waive intellectual property rights. The UK and Germany are opposing, while Canada, France, Japan and Italy are sat on the fence. This is despite the fact their public are strongly in favour of the idea, with polling showing that an average of 70 per cent of people across G7 nations believing that governments should ensure pharmaceutical companies share their formulas and technology, so that qualified manufacturers around the world can help increase the supply.

Dr Mohga Kamal-Yanni, Senior Health Policy Advisor to The People Vaccine Alliance, said: “The G7 must act now to force companies to share the vaccine technology and know-how with qualified manufacturers in developing countries in order to maximise supply.

“Last week the WHO has relaunched its COVID-19 Technology Access Pool to facilitate sharing vaccines technology, knowhow and intellectual property. The G7 must show a strong political support for the pool if they are serious about ending the pandemic. They must also announce funding to support technology transfer and manufacturing in developing countries. Every day they delay is a day that lives could be saved.”

-Ends-

 

For interview opportunities please contact:

David Bull – Oxfam Aotearoa
+64 274 179 724

Notes to Editors:

The Group of Seven (G7) is an intergovernmental organisation consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The heads of government of the member states, as well as the representatives of the European Union, meet at the annual G7 Summit. New Zealand is not a part of this group.

Since G7 leaders last met for a virtual summit on 19 February, 1,094,213 people have died from COVID, the equivalent of 8 people per minute, according to data from Our World in Data https://ourworldindata.org/covid-deaths

Vaccine supply and delivery data from Airfinity, Our World in Data, UNICEF and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Projections of how long vaccinations could take are based on the average rate of vaccinations from 1 – 25 May 2021.Calculations were made on 26 May 2021.

Between them, G7 nations are vaccinating at a rate of 4,630,533 people per day. At that rate it would take 227 days to fully vaccinate their entire population, until 8 January 2022, assuming everyone receives two doses. Between them, Low income countries are vaccinating at a rate of 62,772 people per day. At that rate it will take them 57 years to vaccinate their entire population, until 7 October 2078, assuming everyone receives two doses.

According to new calculations made by the People’s Vaccine Alliance using Our World In Data from 25 May, 1,774,959,169 vaccines have been administered globally. People living in G7 countries received 497,150,151 of these vaccines (28%) their combined population is 774,917,290. People living in low Income countries received 5,481,470 vaccines (0.31%), their combined population is 660,310,395.

For the month of May 497.15m doses were given in G7 countries, divided between 774m people = 0.6423 doses per person, 5.48mdoses were given in low income countries divided between 660m people = 0.0083 doses per person, 0.6423 divided by 0.0083 = 77.4 – therefore, last month people in G7 countries were 77x more likely to get a vaccine than those in poor countries.

The statistic that COVAX will only reach 10% of people in developing countries this year does not include India.

More information on G7 public opinion polling by the People’s Vaccine Alliance available here: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/05/an-average-of-7-in-10-across-g7-countries-think-their-governments-should-force-big-pharma-to-share-vaccine-know-how/

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