Socialist Worker

Rich states hoard jabs as pharma companies profit

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2773

Patents mean profits for pharmaceutical companies

Patents mean profits for pharmaceutical companies


Britain has ordered enough Covid-19 vaccinations to vaccinate its entire population three times over.

If Britain’s vaccine hoarding and uptake trends continue, it will take the world’s poorest countries until 2078 to vaccinate their populations.

Yet vaccine hoarding may get worse as the government announces the rollout of a booster jab programme for the over-50s and clinically vulnerable.

Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International said, “The UK is currently sitting on tens of millions of surplus vaccines that could be redistributed around the world, without impacting its domestic programme, and it is unconscionable to keep hoarding these vaccines while tens of thousands of people are dying every week.

“Quite apart from it making a mockery of vaccine equality, vaccine nationalism in richer countries is slowing the planet from overcoming the pandemic—allowing more time for variants to mutate and spread in lower and higher income countries alike.

“Boris and his government must yet again be reminded that nobody is safe until everyone is safe.”

Some 42 percent of the world’s population has received at least one vaccine dose. But fewer than two percent of these are in less economically developed countries.

The world’s richest countries are expected to finish initial vaccination programmes by January. These countries must look to providing vaccines to the global south as a priority rather than prioritising their own citizens for a third jab.

Many activists, NGOs and charities are calling for the vaccine patent to be waved.

This would allow countries with low levels of vaccination to produce vaccines without the threat of legal action from medical monopolies.

Developers of the vaccines have received over £70 billion in public funding yet none have agreed to waive the patents.

Nine new “vaccine billionaires” and companies such as Pfizer and Moderna have made huge profits thanks to the patents.


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