The Missing Medicines Coalition is calling for a renewed commitment from the UK Government to immediately redistribute available COVID-19 vaccines in light of a report published yesterday by AirFinity and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).
Despite the predictions of more doses, we must remember that currently over 60% of British people are fully vaccinated and therefore are protected, whilst only 1.9% of people in low- and middle-income countries have received just one single dose.
This situation is not inevitable. It is the result of rich governments like ours hoarding vaccines and allowing the control over vaccine manufacturing knowledge and technology to be kept in the hands of multinational pharmaceutical companies. If this knowledge was shared then manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) could be producing vaccines to fulfill their populations’ needs, rather than having to wait for the charity of rich countries and pharmaceutical companies.
The report by Airfinity estimates that there will be 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses available for redistribution in the US, UK, EU, Canada and Japan by the end of 2021 – 500 million of which could be redistributed this month.
G7 countries and the EU promised to redistribute over 1 billion doses at this year’s G7 summit, but less than 15% of these have thus far been delivered.
Meanwhile, low-income countries are facing deadly third waves of COVID-19, having received just 1.4% of the 5 billion vaccine doses administered to-date.
This inequity is morally reprehensible and entirely self-defeating as the virus uncontrolled anywhere is the virus uncontrolled everywhere and it will continue to mutate, risking the effectiveness of current tools.
High-income country governments – including the UK – must urgently redistribute these available doses as a short-term measure to redress the vaccine inequity we are currently seeing due to hoarding by rich countries. Simultaneously, the UK Government must push pharmaceutical companies to share know-how and technology for manufacturing critical COVID tools and support a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights to enable more producers in LMICs to join the manufacturing effort.
A sustainable response is critical if we want to end this pandemic and so is urgency. We call on the UK Government, and the EU and other G7 Governments, to prioritise people over politics and profits. Act urgently to ensure these doses get to countries that desperately need them.
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