There are fears that poorer countries could be left behind as richer nations “hoard” more doses of coronvirus vaccine than they need.
Wealthy countries have amassed a big enough stock of vaccine doses to immunise their people nearly three times over by the end of next year, assuming the vaccines in clinical trials are all approved for use.
The findings come from the People’s Vaccine Alliance, which includes Oxfam and Amnesty International, and which analysed deals done between countries and the eight leading vaccine candidates.
It found that all doses of the Moderna vaccine have been bought by rich countries, as has 96% of Pfizer’s doses.
Just 14% of the world’s population has bought 53% of the most promising vaccines, with Canada singled out as having enough doses to vaccinate every Canadian five times.
Poorer countries, on the other hand, will only be able to vaccinate one in every 10 people next year, the alliance said.
Five of the countries most likely to be left behind – Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine – have reported 1.5 million coronavirus cases in total.
Even a promise from those behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to allocate 64% of doses to people in developing nations may not be enough.
It is thought that supply is still likely to reach only 18% of the world population next year at the most.
The alliance says governments and the pharmaceutical industry must take urgent action to make sure there are enough vaccine doses for the world – not only for the countries who can pay for them.
Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, 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.”
Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager, 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.”
Preet Kaur Gill, Labour’s shadow international development secretary, said: “UK taxpayers deserve to know that the money being spent on their behalf is guaranteed to bring about genuinely equitable access across the world to make us safer as soon as possible.”
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