G7 vaccines failures contribute to 600,000 preventable deaths

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- Short URL: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/mc/x96ht5/

Latest data suggests rich countries are likely to have already secured majority of next generation COVID vaccines

Less than half (49 per cent) of the 2.1 billion COVID vaccine donations promised to poorer countries by G7 countries have been delivered, according to new figures published today by Oxfam and the People’s Vaccine Alliance.

On the eve of this year’s G7 Summit, taking place in the German Alps, a new analysis shows that had the missing donated doses been shared in 2021, it could have been enough to save almost 600,000 lives in low and middle income countries, the equivalent of one every minute.

The worst offenders are the UK and Canada, who have failed to deliver anywhere near the number of vaccines they promised. Just 39 per cent of the100 million doses the UK pledged to deliver by the end of this month have actually been delivered. While the deadline to meet their respective commitments isn’t until the end of the year, only 30 per cent of Canada’s 50.7 million doses and 46 per cent of the 1.2 billion pledged by the US have been delivered. So-called ‘Team Europe’ have collectively delivered just 56 per cent of the 700 million doses promised by the middle of 2022 and Japan has delivered 64 per cent of the 60 million doses it said it would send.

Latest data from Airfinity suggests that rich nations may have already secured over half (55 per cent) of the new generation of Omicron-specific mRNA COVID-19 vaccines being developed by Moderna and Pfizer/ BioNTech. This is even before they have been approved for use, making it likely that many developing countries will yet again be left at the back of the queue.

Max Lawson, Head of Inequality Policy at Oxfam and Co-Chair of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said: “On every level, rich nations have massively betrayed poor countries when it comes to COVID vaccines. First, they stockpiled all the supply for themselves, then they promised to donate their leftovers, but hundreds of millions of these doses never materialised.

“Rich nations are already hoarding the new generation of Omicron specific vaccines, whilst people in poorer countries will be forced to continue to face new variants with vaccines that are increasingly ineffective. The only way to fix this is to give nations the rights to make their own, not rely on rich countries to pass on doses they no longer need and deliver too late for the millions who have died.”

New data published yesterday by Imperial College London found that 599,300 deaths could have been averted in 2021 had 40 per cent of people in all countries been fully vaccinated. The billion missing doses that G7 countries failed to deliver would have been enough to reach this target. Nearly all these preventable deaths were in low- and middle-income countries.

To date only 14 per cent of people in low-income countries and 18 per cent of people on the African continent are fully vaccinated – far from the target to have 70 per cent coverage in all nations by the middle of the year.  Despite such low vaccine coverage, the Imperial College research found COVID vaccines have saved 446,400 lives in Africa and 180,300 in low-income countries

At the same time, rich nations led by the EU and UK have forced through a text at the WTO which has failed to waive intellectual property on vaccines, treatments and technology that would have enabled developing countries to produce their own generic vaccines. Instead, the text adds even more bureaucratic hurdles and further protects the hugely profitable monopolies of firms such as Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling on all countries facing shortages of vaccines, tests and treatments to save lives and end the pandemic by using all trade rule flexibilities available and circumventing WTO rules if necessary. They say the G7 and other rich countries must not stand in their way.

The campaign groups also says that the model of leaving developing countries to rely on donations in order to vaccinate people is completely flawed and actually leads to frustration and mistrust.

Julia Kosgei, Policy Advisor at The People’s Vaccine Alliance said: “Hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved in Africa by the vaccines, but so many more deaths could have been prevented. Vaccination programs have worked best when doses have arrived on time, allowing governments to plan and scale up distribution. But many countries waited a year to get their first doses. When doses finally arrived, they came all at once, often close to their expiry date, which is totally unmanageable and unfair for countries that have already struggling health systems.

“Developing countries do not want to have to wait for leftovers, they want the reliability and dignity of being able to produce their own doses. It is a disgrace that rich countries stalled negotiations on an IP waiver to scale up vaccine production across the world so that pharmaceutical corporations could maximise profits while people died without access. To add insult to injury they couldn't even be bothered to ensure timely access to the doses they didn't even need.

“Rich countries have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to act in the interests of public health for everyone, everywhere - it's time for leaders from the global south to take matters into their own hands. We hope that governments will do whatever is needed to protect their populations – whether that is using flexibilities in global intellectual property rules or circumventing them to save lives. Rich countries must not get in their way.”

Previous research by the People’s Vaccine Alliance found that vaccine monopolies are making it 5 times more expensive to vaccinate the world, while Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech are making over $1,000 profit every second from COVID vaccines.

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For more information, or to arrange an interview please contact the Oxfam Press office on: +44 (0)7748 761999 media.unit@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to editors:

On Saturday 25 June an Oxfam ‘Big Heads’ photo opportunity will be taking place from 10.30am local time in Munich. Campaigners dressed as G7 leaders in hiking outfits will have to choose the right path to fight the COVID pandemic, standing at a big signpost with two directions, towards “Corporate profits” or “Saving lives”. For more information, please see the Media Advisory: https://oxfam.app.box.com/s/eg10zdy3w7x7rwbwwnouvx50ey2u4klz

Further notes to editors, including all data tables available here: https://oxfam.box.com/s/b1bvzcy98jo9uvuzj6ef5wq0l2njxphb

Cost of vaccine monopolies - The Great Vaccine Robbery report sets out the excessive prices being charged by some pharmaceutical companies for COVID-19 vaccines. Oxfam calculated that Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna make $1,000 profit every second.

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