Narissa Subramoney
Copy rewriter
2 minute read
22 Sep 2021
1:44 pm

Covid-19 vaccine firms fuelling human rights crisis – Amnesty International

Narissa Subramoney

Instead of painting Big Pharma companies as heroes – they need to be called out for intentional blocking of knowledge transfer, says the NGO.

File image.

Pharmaceutical companies are fuelling an unprecedented human rights crisis by refusing to waive intellectual property rights and share Covid-19 vaccine technology.

According to the international non-governmental organisation Amnesty International, the world’s leading vaccine producers have failed to prioritise vaccine deliveries to poorer countries.

Vaccine inequality

Rich vs poor

Amnesty International has accused AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer of refusing to participate in initiatives to boost global vaccine supply.

Statistics show that less than 1% of people in low-income countries are fully immunised, compared to 55% in rich countries.

And only 2% of the more than 5.7 billion doses given globally have been administered in Africa.

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Vaccine companies fuelling unprecedented human rights crisis
A health worker inoculates a man with a dose of the Covishield vaccine. Picture: AFP/DIBYANGSHU SARKAR

Vaccine billions

Amnesty International South Africa’s executive director Shenilla Mohamed said instead of painting Big Pharma companies as heroes – they need to be called out for intentional blocking of knowledge transfer.

BioNTech, Moderna and Pfizer are set to earn $130 billion (R1.9 trillion) by the end of this year.

“Against the backdrop of these gross inequalities BioNTech, Moderna and Pfizer are set to make $130 billion combined by the end of 2022. Profits should never come before lives,” said Mohamed.

Now, Amnesty International is calling for two billion doses to be delivered to low and lower middle-income countries before the end of the year.

ALSO READ: ‘Worst pandemic in 100 years and still no vaccine equity for Africa

World leaders must stop lying

Campaigners from the People’s Vaccine Alliance have also caledl on world leaders to stop making empty promises to increase manufacturing and access to vaccines.

“Their wheeling and dealing in favour of wealthy states has brewed an utterly predictable and utterly devastating vaccine scarcity for so many others,” said Mohamed,

“It’s plunging parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia into renewed crises, pushing weakened health systems to the very brink and causing tens of thousands of preventable deaths every week,” she added.

“In many low-income countries, not even healthcare workers and people at risk have received the vaccine.”

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Compiled by: Narissa Subramoney