Any coronavirus vaccine must be affordable for everyone, say campaigners

Friday, 6 March, 2020

Reacting to the UK government's announcement of additional funding for coronavirus vaccine research (1), Heidi Chow, pharmaceuticals campaigner at Global Justice Now said:

"Funding for research into a coronavirus vaccine is vitally important, but the government must apply public interest conditions to this funding to prevent pharmaceutical companies from charging high prices which would restrict widespread access. This is even more the case if aid money is being used to pay for it.

Originally, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) had an access policy that included clear commitments on affordable pricing and patient access for any vaccine developed, but this was reversed in December 2018. The UK should be demanding that CEPI guarantees any vaccines it funds will be made available at an affordable price both in the UK and in lower income countries around the world.(2)

Too many medicines have been produced following publicly-funded research and development and sold back to governments at inflated prices. The NHS ends up paying twice - and people in the global south can end up being shut out completely. The coronavirus crisis is vividly demonstrating the need not only for public healthcare systems in all countries, but also the urgency of ending our overreliance on the private sector for manufacturing essential medicines."