Amnesty International has said in a report that six top manufacturers of the COVID-19 vaccine “are fuelling an unprecedented human rights crisis through their refusal to waive intellectual property rights and share vaccine technology”.
The rights group, on Wednesday, denounced the six drugmakers for “wheeling and dealing in favour of wealthy states”.
In the report titled, “A Double Dose of Inequality”, the six manufactures were listed as AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer.
The Secretary-General of the rights group, Agnes Callamard, commented saying;
“Vaccinating the world is our only pathway out of this crisis.”
“It should be time to hail these companies, who created vaccines so quickly, as heroes. But instead, to their shame and our collective grief, Big Pharma’s intentional blocking of knowledge transfer and their wheeling and dealing in favour of wealthy states has brewed an utterly predictable and utterly devastating vaccine scarcity for so many others.”
Amnesty International has said that after reviewing each company’s human rights policy, the research found that to differing degrees, the six vaccine developers have failed to meet their human rights responsibilities.
The group said it reviewed each company’s vaccine pricing structure, records on intellectual property, knowledge and technology sharing, the fair allocation of available vaccine doses, and transparency.
The report said, “Out of 5.76 billion doses administered worldwide, a paltry 0.3 percent have gone to low-income countries with over 79 percent going to upper-middle- and high-income countries”.
Adding that, “Despite calls to prioritise and collaborate with COVAX Facility, the international instrument aiming to ensure a fair global vaccine allocation, some of the assessed companies have continued to stock up vaccine supplies for states known to be hoarding the vaccine.”
Furthermore, the report stated that all six drugmakers have been reluctant to take part in internationally coordinated initiatives that are aimed at boosting global supply through sharing knowledge and technology.
In addition, the rights group said the companies have also opposed proposals to temporarily lift intellectual property rights, such as the World Trade Organization Trade Related Intellectual Property Rules (TRIPS) Waiver which was proposed by India and South Africa.
Callamard has called on states and pharmaceutical companies “to drastically change course and to do everything needed to deliver two billion vaccines to low- and lower-middle income countries starting now. No one should spend another year suffering and living in fear”.