Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) has written to pharmaceutical companies urging them to act for the common good by ensuring that developing nations have fair and expedient access to COVID-19 vaccines. CRA has appealed to vaccine developers to dramatically shift their practices so that vaccines can be urgently distributed to millions of suffering people in developing nations.
In a recent report by Amnesty International, A Double Dose of Inequality: Pharma Companies and the Covid-19 Vaccines Crisis, six of the largest vaccine developers in the world were assessed. It was found that some of them have prevented equitable distribution of vaccines by refusing to share intellectual property and technology, blocking other manufacturers from producing their own vaccines and prioritising sale of their stock to wealthy nations. The report revealed that some companies have rejected participation in internationally coordinated initiatives such as COVAX, which is aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. In turn, this has led to vaccine scarcity for the developing world.
“Only 4.1% of people in low-income countries have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to some 80% in higher income countries. By prioritising sale of stock to wealthy nations, these vaccine companies deny developing nations’ fair acquirement of vaccines,” said CRA President, Peter Carroll FMS.
“Meanwhile, COVID-19 outbreaks continue to ravage many poorer regions of the world, also posing a risk for mutating strains that could prolong the global pandemic,” he added.
CRA supports the continued call of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for vaccine manufacturers to commit their support to COVAX.
Anne Walker, National Executive Director of CRA, said, “The COVAX Facility’s goal was to make 2 billion vaccine doses available to developing nations by the end of this year, but to date it has only been able to deliver 435 million doses.”
“Whilst world leaders should commit to further financial support of the COVAX Facility and redistribution of their surplus vaccine doses, COVAX also requires drastically improved cooperation and transparency from the vaccine manufacturers to get jabs where they are desperately needed, immediately,” she added.
Vaccines are saving lives in higher-income countries, whilst developing nations suffer tens of thousands of preventable deaths caused by COVID-19. The scale of the global health emergency requires much greater action from the pharmaceutical companies and CRA echoes the recent call of Pope Francis to these companies, “Make a gesture of humanity and allow every country, every people, every human being, to have access to the vaccines.”
With thanks to Catholic Religious Australia.