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Pharma giants condemned over lack of jabs for global South

BRITISH campaigners have condemned a report revealing that less than 5 per cent of people in low-income countries were fully jabbed last year, despite firms producing enough doses for 40 per cent of the world.

Amnesty International’s report, released today, analyses the pandemic profits of pharmaceutical companies and accuses Big Pharma of putting “their own greed before their human rights responsibilities.”

Its analysis shows that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna estimated profits of up to £40 billion in 2021, yet supplied less than 2 per cent of their vaccines to low-income countries. 

Chinese firms Sinovac and Sinopharm delivered just 0.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively of their vaccines to low-income countries.

Johnson & Johnson’s and AstraZeneca distributed a larger proportion – 50 per cent last year. But the report notes that both companies still refuse to share vaccine recipes through projects coordinated by World Health Organisation (WHO), while they are now abandoning their not-for-profit model. 

This means poor countries are unable to produce their own vaccines and must rely on rich nations donating doses. 

The human rights group’s senior director of research, advocacy and policy Rajat Khosla said: “Everyone deserves a fair shot at a vaccine and as we enter our third year of the pandemic, it’s time that everyone, living anywhere in this world, has immediate access.”

In 2021, a total of 10 billion jabs were produced worldwide – enough to meet the WHO’s target to vaccinate 40 per cent of the global population by the end of last year. 

Global Justice Now’s Jonathan Stevenson said the findings were further evidence that relying on charity to get doses to poor nations “can’t and won’t work.”

“It is long past time for the British government to end its neo-colonial refusal to suspend corporate patents at the [World Trade Organisation] and allow countries in the global South to manufacture life-saving vaccines and treatments for themselves,” he added. 

Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman Dr John Puntis said: “This report by Amnesty confirms that pharmaceutical companies prioritise profit over people’s health, and are unrestrained by governments. 

“Not only does this add to an unprecedented global human rights crisis, but also puts both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations at risk by creating conditions that will encourage more deadly coronavirus mutations to emerge. 

“Such variants do not recognise national boundaries as we will learn to our cost.”

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