Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
A group of campaigning organisations under the aegis of People’s Vaccine Alliance, have warned that nearly 70 countries may be able to vaccinate only one in 10 people against the COVID-19 pandemic as wealthier nations have bought up most of the stock.
Their warning is predicated on data indicating the deals already done on the procurement of the vaccines by rich nations.
According to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, rich countries with 14 per cent of the world’s population have bought 53 per cent of the most promising vaccines as the pandemic exposes vast inequities both within and between countries.
This basically means that they have secured enough to vaccinate each citizen at least twice while citizens in low-income countries may not be able to get vaccinated even once.
Canada tops the list with enough vaccine to vaccinate each citizen at least five times.
The People’s Vaccine alliance includes organisations like The Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam.
The alliance used data collected by science information and analytics company, Airfinity to analyse the deals done between countries and the eight leading vaccine candidates.
Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager, Anna Marriott said: “No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket. But unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 for years to come.”
About 96 per cent of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was approved in the US about a week ago, will go to rich countries.
The Moderna vaccine which claims to have 95 per cent efficacy will also go to the wealthier nations. Both vaccines are significantly high-priced and have to be stored at really low temperatures which would be a problem for a lot of countries.
Athough the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine– which claims 70 per cent efficacy, can be stored at normal fridge temperatures and had been priced deliberately low for global access– one company cannot alone supply the whole world.
“The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling on all pharmaceutical corporations working on COVID-19 vaccines to openly share their technology and intellectual property through the World Health Organization COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, so that billions more doses can be manufactured and safe and effective vaccines can be available to all who need them,” the Oxfam International press release said.
The alliance also calls on governments to do everything to make sure that everyone has access to the vaccine- to make it a “people’s vaccine” and not a “profit vaccine”.
In November, more than 100 high-level leaders from public health, faith-based, racial justice, and labour organisations in the United States of America, joined former members of Congress, economists and artists to sign a public letter, calling on President-elect, Joe Biden to seize on this extraordinary moment and power of the US President to support a People’s Vaccine.
Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice, Steve Cockburn, said: “The hoarding of vaccines actively undermines global efforts to ensure that everyone, everywhere can be protected from COVID-19.
“Rich countries have clear human rights obligations not only to refrain from actions that could harm access to vaccines elsewhere, but also to cooperate and provide assistance to countries that need it.”
Senate President Ahmad Lawan had last week questioned the preparedness of the Federal Ministry of Health to effectively acquire, store and vaccinate Nigerians against COVID-19.
Lawan’s cynicism was fueled when the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire alongside the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said the federal government had earmarked N400 billion for the acquisition of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Lawan spoke when the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 visited to brief the leadership of the Senate on the preparation by the federal government to acquire COVID-19 vaccines for use in the country.
The Senate President expressed doubt about the readiness of the federal government to manage the COVID-19 vaccination.
According to him, the National Assembly was ready to support the funding for adequate vaccines to protect Nigerians, adding that the Ehanire must convince the National Assembly that therelies were adequate facilities and manpower to protect the proposed vaccines.
He said: “I have not been convinced with your presentation that we are ready to bring in the vaccines. You have to do much more to convince me that we are ready. This is a matter of life and death. I am not only a doubting Thomas, but I am also doubting Ahmad.”
Lawan insisted that the health minister should provide the list and location of the storage facilities for inspection.