Big companies should not put profit before vaccinations in poor countries

From: Elspeth Knights, Vale Road, St Leonards on Sea

One person’s preventable death is a disaster.

Vaccines prevent deaths, epidemics and further vicious mutants. Thus vaccines in South Africa could have prevented this killer strain there and here.

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The virus is still rampant and more potential mutations are likely to be evolving anywhere now. About 94% of the population of the huge continent of Africa have had no vaccination or boosters. Some poor countries with low vaccination rates are exporting vaccines to wealthy well-vaccinated countries.

Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

Laboratories in Africa and India are idle and available to produce billions of vaccines. So why no vaccines?

The simple answer seems to be utter greed. Eight Pfizer and Moderna shareholders laughed all the way to the bank as their combined wealth rose by $10.31 billion in just one week. Pharmaceutical executives are making a killing from a crisis they helped to create with this vaccine inequality.

Some of us in Hastings and Bexhill Global Justice Now have discussed waiving patents sooner - indeed as soon as possible - on many key medicines, supported and financed by taxpayers’ money, grants and billions in Research and Development funding.

Since South Africa and India proposed, a year ago, the waiving of patents on all Covid-19 vaccines, many countries have supported the idea, including Biden in the USA, but the UK government is one of only a handful standing in the way of this proposal from the World Health Organisation to allow factories across the world to start producing.

Some people are partying and making headlines of donating miniscule amounts of vaccines with many of these close to expiration dates. This also led to the government throwing away 600,000 doses last August. Research shows that Moderna Pfizer and BioNTech are making $1,000 profit every second - not just unacceptable, but shameful.

We need a waiver, now, to override corporate monopolies and to ramp up production of vaccines. Thousands of people here, around the world, including the Pope, former world leaders, the US government, Nobel Laureates, Norway, and Nicola Sturgeon leading in the UK, support waiving the patents to save lives.

We urge readers to use their powers of persuasion on our MP and the Government so that it changes its policy. The UK must stop preventing governments of the global south from making their own affordable vaccines. Instead, we must save lives - from this killing free trade which is failing the south and will circle in its devastation back to us - our economy and population - here, again and again.

When history is written, on whose side will we sit? What terrible figure of lives lost do we need to reach, before we take obvious, common sense action to curb greed? Waive now, we’re drowning.

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