World

Ending vaccine apartheid

  • Opinion by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Anis Chowdhury (sydney and kuala lumpur)
  • Inter Press Service

Exclude by appropriating

Developing countries now represent over 85% of deaths from a global pandemic. At the beginning of September, The Economist estimated the actual number of deaths from COVID-19 worldwide at 15.2 million, down from the official 4.6 million.

In six out of ten countries with the highest death rates, less than a tenth of their population was fully vaccinated by August 10. In the other four, no more than a third were fully immunized.

Now, as rich countries buy more vaccines for third injections, immunization inequalities are becoming more and more blatant. Buy hundreds of millions of doses, they penalize the poorer countries already doubly destitute. Rich countries are likely to have around 1.2 billion additional doses by the end of 2021!

More than 5.41 billion vaccines were administered globally, with 81% in just ten high- and upper-middle-income countries. Meanwhile, the poorest countries received just 0.4%.

In January, the Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned, “I have to be blunt: the world is on the brink of catastrophic moral failure – and the price for that failure will be paid in lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.”

Profit booster

Beginning of July, Pfizer and BioNTech announcement plans to obtain emergency clearance for the booster vaccine doses. Pfizer then met with U.S. officials to advocate for their cause, while Moderna asked for approval this month.

Following the of the Israeli president third blow on July 30, near a million boosters have been administered in the United States since August 12 despite hesitation. US President Joe Biden plans to launch a campaign for an additional 100 million recalls on September 20.

France began administering boosters to people over 65 starting in September. The UK announced offering a third dose from the end of September. Germany, Belgium and other European countries followed suit.

Now the supply will decrease further as Pfizer and Moderna sell booster doses. Two new Pfizer-BioNTech facilities have been approved for the manufacture of boosters in France and Germany.

During this time, Moderna is gaining momentum recall production in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Almost every 3.2 billion The Pfizer and Moderna doses that will be produced this year have already been purchased by the United States and Europe.

The WHO DG blasted this “scandalous injusticeAt the World Health Assembly in May. WHO has repeatedly called to delay reminder, arguing that the world’s most vulnerable people should be vaccinated first.

Pfizer and Moderna did not provide details of their recall prices. a economist estimated: “Sold at current prices, that would represent an increase in income of about 50% in the long run.”

High moderna its vaccine sales forecast for 2021 for its first two doses at US $ 19.2 billion in May. Thus, sales of boosters are expected to add around US $ 10 billion. During this time, Pfizer has lifted its own forecast of over 70% to US $ 26 billion, with booster sales bringing in an additional US $ 13 billion.

The benefits for science

The practices of rich countries actually run counter to most scientific advice. The case of boosters is not scientifically established. More scientists disagree that boosters are the best way to deal with new threats. Quoting lack of credible data, scientists opposed boosters in reputable journals, including Nature.

August 6, European Union Medicines Regulator noted that there was not enough evidence to recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters. A European Center for Disease Prevention and Control This month’s report asserted that “there is no urgent need” for booster vaccines, except for people with fragile health.

WHO noted on August 18 that current evidence does not support the case for booster injections. Scientists described the official decisions approving the third booster injections as “Shocking” and “criminal”. When U.S. officials approved the recalls, two senior vaccine officials resign in protest.

Independent research on Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine suggests it provides long-term immunity for years, contrary to the latest claims of the company. Also using mRNA technology, Moderna’s vaccine is expected to have similar long-term efficacy.

As COVID-19 vaccines are still new, such expectations remain subject to confirmation. As with most vaccines, ‘memory response‘triggers antibody protection when a vaccinated person becomes infected, even after natural response levels have diminished.

Perhaps most worryingly, as the big pharmaceutical companies transform their business strategies to generate more profit from boosters, their incentives are changing. They have less reason to develop vaccines that fully immunize against the COVID-19 virus, or even to ensure that everyone is vaccinated.

Apartheid booster

Providing boosters reduces the vaccines available to others. The supply of the poorest countries has already been drastically reduced by the rich countries getting far more than their populations need.

Some even abused COVAX, allegedly designed for equitable distribution to the poorest countries. COVAX aimed to deliver one billion doses of vaccine in 2021, but had only shipped 217 million in August, according to Unicef.

During this time, many governments of rich countries continue to block requesting the World Trade Organization to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights related to COVID-19. This waiver would allow developing countries to produce affordable tests, vaccines, treatments, equipment and other similar needs.

Earlier, Big Pharma executives dismissed it as “absurdity”WHO C-TAP initiative to share technologies and research knowledge in order to accelerate production and access to these technologies at an affordable price.

Vaccination equity needed

There is also a practical reason to seek equity in vaccines. We are all safer when everyone is vaccinated. New variants more resistant to vaccines are emerging, putting everyone at risk.

Rich countries protecting their own citizens will not prevent the emergence of new mutants. New infections are likely to trigger a resurgence, or worse, with new, more dangerous mutations.

The Delta variant, first reported in India in late 2020, jumped in March as few had been vaccinated. Ironically, the Serum Institute of India has by far the largest vaccine production capacity in the world, but vastly underutilized for COVID-19 vaccines.

The The IMF warns highly infectious variants could derail economic recovery, reducing global output by $ 4.5 trillion by 2025. But the Economist Intelligence Unit valued the global economy could lose US $ 2.3 trillion in 2021 alone due to delayed vaccinations, with developing countries losing the most.

For the WHO DG, “Vaccine inequity is the biggest obstacle in the world to ending this pandemic and recovering from COVID-19… Economically, epidemiologically and morally, it is in the best interest of all countries to use the latest available data to make life-saving vaccines available to all ”.

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service




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