PM’s greed comment reveals ‘warped’ understanding of pandemic, vaccine campaigners say

PM’s greed comment reveals ‘warped’ understanding of pandemic, vaccine campaigners say

Date: 24 March 2021
Campaigns: Pharma

Vaccine equity campaigners have lashed out at Boris Johnson for claiming “greed” is behind the UK’s “vaccine success”.

Global Justice Now, an NGO campaigning for fair distribution of vaccines, said the comment reveals “just how warped” the Prime Minister’s understanding of the coronavirus crisis is.

The Sun reports Johnson told the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs: “The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed my friends”, before adding “Actually I regret saying it.”

Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now, said:

“The Prime Minister will call this comment a slip of the tongue, but it’s an incredibly revealing remark. It shows just how warped his understanding of this crisis is.

“We have a vaccine because of massive public investment and the remarkable work of scientists at publicly-funded universities. We’ve rolled it out because of our incredible National Health Service.

“Greed, however, drove big pharma to privatise this work and withhold doses from millions worldwide to protect their profits. And, if Boris Johnson keeps letting it happen, there’ll be more coronavirus mutations that could send us back to square one.”


Notes for editors

  • This story was reported in The Sun:
  • The UK, EU, and US have repeatedly blocked attempts by low and middle income countries, spearheaded by India and South Africa, to temporarily waive intellectual property on trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) at the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
  • Factories that could produce Covid-19 vaccines are currently sitting idle because they are not in the supply chains of the pharmaceutical companies holding vaccine patents. A TRIPS waiver would unlock the world’s productive capacity to produce Covid-19 vaccines, ending the pandemic years sooner.
  • The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling on governments to back a TRIPS waiver at the WTO and on Pharmaceutical companies to enter the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), which is designed to facilitate sharing of vaccine technology and knowledge between companies and governments.
  • The People’s Vaccine Alliance is a coalition of organisations and activists united under a common aim of campaigning for a ‘people’s vaccine’ for COVID-19. The alliance’s members include Free the Vaccine, Global Justice Now, Public Citizen, the Yunus Centre, Frontline AIDS, Amnesty International, Oxfam, SumOfUs and UNAIDS:

Photo: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street