Failure to tackle global vaccine inequality at this weekend’s G20 summit could prolong the pandemic, civil society groups have warned.
Fresh calls were made to tackle structural problems that campaigners say have so far been ignored, allowing Covid-19 doses to be “hoarded” by rich nations.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of more than 75 organisations including Oxfam, Amnesty International, the African Alliance, UNAIDS, and Global Justice Now, urged G20 leaders to unblock global supply shortages by waiving intellectual property and sharing technology of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments.
G20 countries represent 62% of the world’s population but have used 82% of the world’s Covid-19 vaccines, while only 3.1% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, said campaigners.
The alliance is calling on G20 leaders to pressure the UK and Germany to resolve the dispute, saying it would allow all safe manufacturers approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to produce Covid19 vaccines, unlocking the world’s productive capacity.
Anna Marriot, policy lead for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said: “It’s an absolute scandal that the G20 has wasted a year ignoring a proposal, backed by the majority of its members, to break vaccine monopolies and ensure the life-saving vaccines can be made around the world to save countless lives.
“The G20 is turning its back on the thousands of children orphaned every day by this pandemic. G20 leaders who support the waiver must not be silenced by the rich country members like the UK and Germany. It is beyond time to act.”
Tamaryn Nelson, adviser on right to health from Amnesty International said: “When the G20 met last year, 1.3 million people had died of Covid-19 and leaders vowed to spare no effort to ensure access to vaccines for all people.
“A year later, not much has changed, except another 3.5 million people lost their lives to Covid-19. It’s unconscionable that G20 leaders are not taking sufficient action while tens of thousands of people continue to die every week.
“Countries sitting on excess vaccines must redistribute these doses now and pharmaceutical companies need to share the know-how needed to scale up global production. Anything short of this is depriving billions of people of lifesaving vaccines and medicines. We have no more time to waste.”
Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now, said: “Armed with effective vaccines and abundant manufacturing capacity, we should be able to swiftly vaccinate the world from Covid-19.”