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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

COVID-19: Amnesty International accuses pharmaceutical companies of leaving poorer countries

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Amnesty International today accused pharmaceutical companies producing COVID-19 vaccines of exacerbating an "unprecedented human rights crisis" by calling for two billion doses to be distributed to poor countries.

In a report entitled "Double dose of inequality: pharmaceutical companies and the COVID-19 vaccine crisis", the NGO stresses that most of them do not prioritize the poorest countries.

The report is being released and a global conference on vaccines is expected today. US President Joe Biden has promised to announce additional commitments to vaccinate the population of the least developed countries.

"Vaccinating people is the only way out of this crisis. "It should be time to salute these companies, which created the vaccines so quickly, for their heroism," Amnesty International Secretary-General Anies Kalamar said in a press release.

"Instead, to the great shame and sorrow of all of us, the international blockade of the transfer of know-how by the big pharmaceutical companies and their maneuvers in favor of rich countries gave rise to a shortage of vaccines, which was entirely predictable and utterly catastrophic for so many but".

The NGO reviewed the policies of AstraZeneca, Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax - the latter vaccine has not yet been approved - in terms of human rights, pricing, intellectual property, know-how and technology sharing, dose distribution and transparency.

He concluded that more or less the six companies that developed the vaccines "did not live up to their human rights responsibilities."

Of the 5,76 billion installments that have been disbursed, only 0,3% is distributed in countries with "low" incomes, while 79% in countries with "middle-upper" and "high" incomes, Amnesty emphasizes.

Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna plan to make a total of $ 130 billion in profits by the end of 2022, according to the NGO, for which "profits should never be above human life."

Although most of these companies have received "billions of dollars in government funding", they choose to "monopolize intellectual property, prevent the transfer of technology and aggressively limit measures that would allow them to expand their vaccine production worldwide," he said. Amnesty International.

It calls on companies and governments to "change course" and distribute two billion doses to lower- and middle-income countries.

When the NGO contacted them before publishing the report, all companies except Novavax said they recognized that a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, especially in lower-income countries, was out of the question, and outlined their efforts to this, without convincing Amnesty International.

Source: RES-EAP

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