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Unison Conference 2022 Unison delegates call for end to rich countries hoarding Covid-19 vaccines

NONE of us around the world are safe “until everyone is safe,” the Unison conference heard today, as they debated global vaccine equality.

Sixty-nine of the world’s poorest nations missed the World Health Organisation’s end-of-year target for vaccinating 40 per cent of their populations against Covid-19, according to official data.

This is despite an estimated 600-million surplus of vaccine doses across G7 countries alone, while just one in 11 people in low-income countries have received a single dose.

Caroline Johnson, moving motion 69 on behalf of the NEC, said: “The world’s richest countries are hoarding the vaccines while poorer nations are struggling.

“Big pharma have refused to share their patents so that more vaccines can be produced by poorer nations.

“We need to get more vaccines where they are needed because none of us are safe until everyone is safe.”

Coventry City delegate Paul Hunt said: “A profit-driven system is inadequate to deal with the challenge we face.

“We should go further than the motion and call for the nationalisation of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Omar Caseman, from Birmingham local government branch, called for an end to “the exploitation of big pharma” and to support the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights waiver called for by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The waiver would force the big pharmaceutical companies to share their patents, which would accelerate production of vaccines in and for the global South.

East Midlands delegate Gilly Anglin-Jarret reminded delegates that even though it faced an illegal US blockade, Cuba had produced three vaccines of its own.

Because of the blockade, the socialist island had not been able to share its vaccines with other poor nations, although it had sent doctors and nurses across the world to help vaccinate people.

Ms Anglin-Jarret said: “The vision of Che Guevara was to put the health needs of the people first. We need to be stronger to end this vaccine hoarding.”

Wilma Brown from Unison Scotland said she had heard the excuse that reaching some communities to supply the vaccines was sometimes difficult because of the need for cold storage.

Ms Brown said: “I saw plenty of fridges on trucks in Africa that managed to get beer and McDonald’s into communities.

“Why don’t we use those fridges to get the vaccines to where they are needed?

“Let’s innovate to make sure the vaccines get distributed to where they are needed to be.”

The motion was carried unanimously.

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