Vaccine for people not for the profits of big pharma

 World need vaccine for billions of people not make some billionaires


The billions of people around the world need the corona  vaccination to save lives and resume the normal economic activities.  Millions of people have lost jobs. Millions more fall in poverty. millions of people are facing hunger and starvation as the result of the economic crisis intensified by rising tide of coronavirus. 
 When people need the vaccine to save lives, the big pharmaceutical companies are looking for more profits. The Big pharma is turning the health emergency into an opportunity to earn billions of dollars. 
This is really a pathetic situation. But that is how the capitalism works. Capitalism prefer profits over human needs. 

The People’s Vaccine Alliance calculates that Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have paid out $26 billion in dividends and stock buybacks to their shareholders in the past 12 months. This would be enough to pay to vaccinate at least 1.3bn people, the equivalent of the population of Africa.

Oxfam International stated this in a press release issued Thursday, on behalf of Peoples Vaccine Alliance Asia, ahead of Big Pharma shareholder meeting this week. Oxfam is part of The Peoples’ Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of global and national organizations and activists united under a common aim of campaigning for a ‘People’s Vaccine’. 

                                         

The call for a People’s Vaccine is backed by past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders and economists. Peoples Vaccine Alliance is working for free vaccine to all.

The Oxfam said, “This is a public health emergency, not a private profit opportunity.” Oxfam Health Policy Manager Anna Marriott said, “We should not be letting corporations decide who lives and who dies while boosting their profits. We need a people’s vaccine, not a profit vaccine.”

“Vaccine apartheid is not a natural phenomenon but the result of governments stepping back and allowing corporations to call the shots. Instead of creating new vaccine billionaires we need to be vaccinating billions in developing countries. It is appalling that Big Pharma is making huge pay-outs to wealthy shareholders in the face of this global health emergency,” Marriott said.

“The Peoples Vaccine does not endorse a price of $19. Prices can and should be far lower than this to make vaccinating the world possible,” Oxfam quoted the People’s Vaccine Alliance.

The shareholder meetings began on April 22 with Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson followed by Moderna and Astrazeneca in the coming weeks. Protests are expected outside the meetings in the US and UK while investors inside the meetings will be presenting resolutions to expand vaccine access. There is a growing backlash against the de facto privatisation of successful Covid-19 vaccines and pressure on the pharma firms to openly license the intellectual property and share the technology and know-how with qualified vaccine producers across the world.

While the global economy remains frozen due to the slow and uneven vaccine rollout worldwide, the soaring shares of vaccine makers has created a new wave of billionaires.

The founder of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin, is now worth $5.9 billion and Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel $5.2 billion. According to regulatory filings, Bancel has cashed out more than $142 million in Moderna stock since the pandemic began. Many other investors have also become billionaires in the last few months, while the International Chamber of Commerce projects a worst-case GDP loss of $9 trillion due to global vaccine inequity.

While one in four citizens of rich nations have had a vaccine, just one in 500 people in poorer countries have done so, meaning the death toll continues to climb as the virus remains out of control. Epidemiologists are predicting we have less than a year before mutations could render the current vaccines ineffective.

One of the reasons Pharma companies have been able to generate such large profits is because of intellectual property rules that restrict production to a handful of companies.

Last week, 175 former heads of state and Nobel Prize winners, including Gordon Brown, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Francois Hollande wrote to President Biden to support the temporary waiving of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to enable the rapid scale up of vaccine production across the world. They join the 1.5 million people in the US and other nations who have signalled their support for a Peoples Vaccine. Over 100 low and middle-income nations, led by India and South Africa, are calling at the World Trade Organisation for a waiver of intellectual property protections on Covid-19 products during the pandemic, a move so far opposed by the US, EU and other rich nations. 
                                                          Khalid Bhatti 

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