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VACCINES FOR THE RICH

DEATH FOR THE POOR

What happens in one country can spread to other countries. We are all interconnected. It is time to share the vaccine with all countries, wealthy and poor.

But so far the sharing of the vaccine with the global south has been slow. While around 55% of people living in high-income countries have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, less than 1% of people living in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated (Nature, 9-15-21).

The World Health Organization (among others) have started a global effort to equally distribute a vaccine called Covax. Through a movement called Advanced Market Commitment, Covax’ goal is to provide vaccines to 92 lower-income countries. Covax has shipped 32.9 million vaccine doses to 70 countries and regions. However, this is just 6% of the 594 million doses that have been administered worldwide. On top of that, in late June, Covax sent about 530,000 of those doses to the U.K., which is more than double the number of doses sent to the entire continent of Africa. Despite being among the countries that had reserved most of the world’s vaccines, the U.K. still tapped into the small supply of Covax vaccines. Canada, Australia and New Zealand tapped into the Covax supply as well. This is unacceptable.

Also Covax is scrambling to deliver less than half of the $2 billion figure they initially promised (Washington Post, 12-14-21).

And now WHO warns that vaccine deprived Africa may not hit the 70% Covid inoculation goal until 2024.

Plenty of people living in lower-income countries would get vaccinated immediately if they had the opportunity to do so. However, most of the vaccine doses are being hoarded by rich countries on the basis of vaccinating all of their citizens who could possibly want a dose. Venezuela has yet to receive any of its doses allocated by Covax, Haiti has received less than half of what it was allocated, and Syria received about a 10th of what it was allocated. Kenya has only administered 4.8 doses per 100 people so far and expects to vaccinate 30% of its population by 2023. That’s with Covax covering the first 20%, which seems to be unlikely at this rate.

Meanwhile, the U.K. has options to buy another 27 million shots through Covax. The U.K. has also made private deals to reserve eight injections for every U.K. resident. These deals have been made despite the fact that there are more than 90 developing countries that have almost no access to receiving and administering vaccine doses. On August 4th, the World Health Organization even called for a halt to booster shots for wealthier nations, in order to deliver first and second doses of the vaccine to poorer countries.

The US continues to dispute calls by the UN Health Agency to delay COVID-19 booster vaccine shots, due to the unacceptable lack of doses given to poorer countries. Meanwhile, China has already sent 770 million vaccine doses and announced on August 5th, that it had its own goal to send 2 billion doses to the rest of the world by the end of the year. China appears to be one of the few countries that is taking care of the extreme vaccination disparity.

Covax appears to be one of the only ways for lower-income countries to receive vaccine doses, yet it has delivered only 10% of the doses it promised. It is also trying to get rich countries to distribute their donated vaccines through its own system, but some countries are making their own deals to wield influence. This leaves people living in poorer countries virtually hopeless in fighting COVID-19 and susceptible to political influence from wealthier nations. Donations from wealthier nations are unreliable and insufficient and we must find a better way to equally distribute vaccine doses across the globe. The amount of vaccination doses promised by these nations simply aren’t being delivered.

Besides this, developing countries are being ravaged by the developing variants. Without vaccination rates rising, this will only continue to get worse. This is why we support the efforts of Congresswoman Jayapal and Congressman Pocan to promote global vaccination. See more information below.


The NOVID Act

On June 8th, 2021, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Senator Jeff Merkley, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the bicameral Nullifying Opportunities for Variants to Infect and Decimate (NOVID) Act. Their goal with this act is to expand the nation’s international COVID prevention and vaccination efforts to reduce the risk of new variant outbreaks. Through this act, lives will be saved by helping to inoculate at least 60 percent of the populations of the 92 low and middle-income countries eligible to receive COVID vaccines through the COVAX program. This bill authorizes spending for $25 billion to cover the cost of producing 8 billion vaccine doses, $8.5 billion to cover the cost of delivering those vaccines and $500 million to create a global disease surveillance network to fight against future pandemics.

House NOVID Act    Senate NOVID Act

NOVID Act PDF

Krishnamoorthi, Merkley, Warren, and Jayapal Introduce NOVID Act (Krishnamoorthi Official Site, 6-8-21)


Marshall Plan for Covid

On August 13, 2021, Congressman Jake Auchincloss and 21 other members of Congress expressed support to develop a “Marshall plan”, where the U.S. would help distribute vaccines, medical equipment and other crucially needed medical supplies globally. With the current rate of global vaccinations, many nations will not reach herd immunity until 2023. With the rise of the Omicron variant, it is imperative that the U.S. develop a Marshall Plan for global vaccinations, as the virus will continue to spread for years if the rest of the world remains unvaccinated.

Jake Auchincloss calls for U.S. to develop “Marshall Plan” for global vaccinations (Jake Auchincloss Official Site)

Opinion Piece from Jake Auchincloss Regarding Marshall Plan (CNN, 3-29-21)


Omicron Update

A new Covid-19 variant called "Omicron" has emerged. It was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa on November 24th, 2021. The variant has an unusually large number of mutations and has begun to spread to other countries.

This is why it is of vital importance to make sure all countries around the globe are vaccinated.

Update on Omicron (World Health Organization)

What You Need to Know about Variants (CDC)

SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (Wikipedia)

Omicron variant detected in more countries as scientists race to find answers (Reuters, 11-28-21)

Campaigners slam EU countries for slow vaccine sharing as variant sparks panic (DW, 11-26-21)


Calls for Action

Campaigners slam EU countries for slow vaccine sharing as variant sparks panic (DW, 11-26-21)

$25 Billion to Vaccinate the World (Public Citizen, 5-24-21)

We Support Mark Pocan's Global Vaccination Bill (Earth Future Action)

AESG Member Statement: A Call for US Leadership on Global Vaccination Efforts (Economic Strategy Group, 8-9-21)

Jayapal Leads Lawmakers in Calling for $34 Billion to Improve Global Vaccine Distribution (Jayapal, 7-23-21)

"Urge Congressional leadership to include funding in upcoming budget reconciliation bill, 'both to save lives and to reinforce America’s leadership in combatting the pandemic worldwide.'"


Vaccine Caucus

COVID-19 Global Vaccination Caucus Statement On $2 Billion For Vaccine Manufacturing In Build Back Better Act | Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (Krishnamoorthi, 9-15-21)


Gordon Brown (Former British Prime Minister and Current WHO Advisor) Calls Failure to Vaccinate the Globe a Moral Catastrophe of Historic Proportions

Failure to share Covid jabs a ‘historic moral catastrophe’, says Gordon Brown (Telegraph, 10-21-21)

Press Release: Global Leaders make urgent Covid vaccine appeal to G20 Chair, Mario Draghi ahead of summit this weekend (The Office of Gordon & Sarah Brown, 10-28-21)

Former PM Gordon Brown Discusses Vaccine Mission & The UK & US's 'Special Relationship' (YouTube)

The failure of rich nations to share Covid-19 vaccines is a "moral catastrophe of historic proportions", Gordon Brown has warned.

On October 21st, Gordon Brown also stated the following:

"I am here today to issue a warning. In the ongoing race between the virus and vaccines, we are once again at a moment of truth. The next 10 days to October 31 will be decisive. If, at the G20, the world's richest countries cannot expedite airlifting vaccines immediately, it will be an epidemiological, economic and ethical dereliction of duty that will shame us all." 


Biden

Biden’s plan to vaccinate the world won’t work. Here’s a better one (The Washington Post, 9-27-21)

This article is by Lawrence O. Gostin, a professor of global health law, Georgetown University. He also directs the World Health Organization Center on Global Health Law. His book "Global Health Security: A Blueprint for the Future" will be published in Oct. 2021.

In this article, Gostin discusses how President Biden has the power to prod drug companies to share their intellectual property and know-how.

Global COVID-⁠19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better (The White House, 9-24-21)

 

Debate About Vaccine Royalties

Urgent Letter to President Biden (Free the Vaccine, 9-20-21)

Campaigners to Biden: Stop Acting Like a Big Pharma ‘Puppet” and Help Vaccinate the World (Common Dreams, 9-20-21)

Pres. Biden Must Deliver COVID-19 WTO TRIPS Waiver at WTO Ministerial, Say Members of Congress (Public Citizen, 11-23-21)

 

Reports

The fight to manufacture COVID vaccines in lower-income countries (Nature, 9-16-21)

COVID Boosters for Wealthy Nations Spark Outrage (Nature, 7-30-21)

 

Global Vaccination Efforts

Omicron wave is wake-up call about need to vaccinate the world, say Hill Democrats, experts (Washington Post, 1-25-22)

WHO: Africa might miss 70% vaccination goal until late 2024 (AP News, 12-14-21s)

Boosters in wealthy nations come as poorer nations await first doses (Washington Post, 12-14-21)

The U.N.-led Covax vaccine initiative aimed to ship 2 billion doses. It won’t reach half that level (Washington Post, 12-10-21)

Failure to vaccinate poor countries fans fears of uncontrolled outbreak (Politico, 11-23-21)

‘They rushed the process’: Vaccine maker’s woes hamper global inoculation campaign (Politico, 10-19-21)

The W.H.O. Urges Wealthy Countries to Halt Booster Shots and Send More Doses to Poorer Nations (New York Times, 8-4-21)

"The World Health Organization called on Wednesday for a moratorium on coronavirus vaccine booster shots until the end of September, so that vaccine supplies can be focused on helping all countries vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations. "

‘Absolutely Unacceptable’ COVID-19 Vaccination Rates in Developing Countries- The Development Podcast (World Bank)

USAID’s COVID-19 Response (USAID)

 

Wealthy Countries Dipping Into Supply

Vaccine Apartheid (Public Citizen)

See How Rich Countries Got to the Front of the Vaccine Line (New York Times, 3-31-21)

Rich Nations Dip into COVAX Supply While Poor Wait For Shots (AP News, 8-14-21)

 

Covid 19 Variants

Covid-19: Variants are Spreading in Countries with Low Vaccination Rates (The BMJ, 5-26-21)

 

Covid Tracker

Tracking Coronavirus Vaccinations Around the World (New York Times, 9-21-21)

More Than 5.17 Billion Shots Given: Covid-19 Tracker (Bloomberg, 9-20-21)

Reuters COVID-19 Tracker

Reuters COVID-19 Tracker- Nigeria