Amnesty blames vaccine inequality on COVID-19 jab producers
COVID-19 vaccine makers put profits before lives, Amnesty International said on Wednesday, as it demanded 2 billion doses for the poorest countries by the end of the year.
The human rights group said in a new report that US President Joe Biden must pledge at the United Nations General Assembly to fully immunize 70% of the world’s population by next September.
âWe need leaders like President Biden to put billions of doses on the table and deliver the goods; otherwise, it is just another empty gesture, and lives will continue to be lost, âsaid Amnesty International Director AgnÃ¨s Callamard.
The group said AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer have all refused to share doses or technology to allow more of the world to get COVID-19 injections. Most of the rich world’s people have been vaccinated, but parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia have plunged into new crises with “tens of thousands of preventable deaths every week,” Amnesty International said.
Of the 5.76 billion doses administered globally, only 0.3% went to low-income countries, with more than 79% to upper and upper middle-income countries, he said. In letters sent to Amnesty International, all companies pledged to support human rights, but the report says their actions violated that pledge.
AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson were selling their doses at cost, he noted. But all six companies had fought an offer by India and South Africa to waive vaccine-related intellectual property rights to the World Trade Organization (WTO), despite considerable government support.
Amnesty International has launched a new campaign which it says has been supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights “to hold states to account and large pharmaceutical companies “.
With 100 days to go until the end of the year, he said the WHO target of immunizing 40% of the population in low and lower middle income countries was under threat. He demanded that rich countries redistribute “the hundreds of millions of excess doses currently unused” and that vaccine developers ensure that at least half of the doses produced go to the poorest countries.
“We call on states and pharmaceutical companies to radically change course and do whatever is necessary to deliver two billion vaccines to low and lower middle income countries now,” Callamard said. âProfits should never come before lives,â she said.
“No one should spend another year suffering and living in fear.”
According to media reports, Biden will announce that the United States plans to donate an additional 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to the rest of the world, bringing its total commitment to 1.1 billion, officials said. Donations are being made “free of charge, unconditionally,” a senior administration official said ahead of the meeting.
“For every injection we have given in this country to date, we are now giving three injections to other countries,” she added.
In his first speech at the UN as president on Tuesday, Biden told delegates the United States has spent more than $ 15 billion in the global response to COVID-19 and shipped more than 160 million doses to d ‘other countries. WHO has criticized the United States and other wealthy countries for plans to roll out booster injections for the elderly and high-risk populations, as much of the world faces a severe shortage of doses. But the administration official said: “We are proving that you can take care of your own, while helping others.”