Large booster jab programme “abhorrent” while low-income countries struggle to access vaccines
Date: 10 September 2021
Global Justice Now has warned that “gobbling up” vaccine supplies in the UK while low-income countries have vaccinated less than 2% of their populations would be “dangerous” and “morally abhorrent” after the UK medicines regulator granted approval for a booster programme in principle.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, yesterday called on wealthy countries with large supplies of coronavirus vaccines to refrain from offering booster shots through the end of the year, expanding an earlier request that has been largely ignored.
Epidemiologists have warned that global vaccine inequality threatens to undermine our current generation of vaccines, while a report from the Wellcome Trust and Institute for Government warned that virus mutations will “chip away” at the protection offered by vaccines.
The UK and Germany are blocking attempts to waive intellectual property on Covid-19 vaccines and treatments at the World Trade Organisation, first proposed by South Africa and India last October.
Pharmaceutical companies have boycotted the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), a patent pool intended to share vaccine technology and knowhow with safe manufacturers to maximise global vaccine production.
Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now, said:
“A large UK booster programme right now would fly in the face of the WHO’s advice on how to end this pandemic. Gobbling up vaccine supplies in rich countries while the virus spreads unabated in low and middle-income countries is dangerous and makes new, more virulent, or vaccine-resistant variants of Covid-19 more likely.
“We shouldn’t have to choose between vaccinating rich and poor countries, but we’ve handed exclusive patents on these publicly funded vaccines to a handful of companies. We’re suppressing global vaccine production while hoarding the limited supplies for ourselves. It’s morally abhorrent.”