UK has vaccinated more people than 132 countries combined

UK has vaccinated more people than 132 countries combined

Date: 12 October 2021
Campaigns: Pharma

  • Global Justice Now to carry coffins down Whitehall to highlight global Covid-19 deaths as UK enters make-or-break talks aimed to boost global vaccinations

The UK has vaccinated more people than 132 countries combined, new figures reveal, as vaccine access campaigners hold a “day of shame” to condemn the British government’s inaction on global vaccine inequality.

The UK alone has fully vaccinated 45.05 million people from a population of 68.2 million, compared to a total of 44.2 million from 132 countries with a combined population of more than one billion.

Countries collectively representing 13% of the world’s population lag behind the UK, including Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique, Ghana, Yemen, Madagascar, Cameroon, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Malawi, and Zambia. Many have vaccination rates of less than 2%.

Global Justice Now, STOPAIDS, Just Treatment, and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) will carry coffins down Whitehall in London today in a funeral procession to protest the UK’s complicity in global vaccine inequality. In Edinburgh, protestors in funeral attire will hold a white flower wreath reading ‘Shame’ outside the British government’s Scotland office.

For more than a year the UK has blocked attempts to waive intellectual property on Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Since India and South Africa proposed a patent waiver last October, 3.5 million people have died from Covid-19, averaging more than 10,000 deaths a day.

The WTO’s intellectual property council meets again tomorrow to discuss the waiver. Germany has forced EU opposition to the waiver, despite support from countries including France. But with post-election coalition talks likely to bring a change in government in Germany, the UK could be the last opponent to the waiver at the WTO.

The development of the Oxford vaccine was 97% publicly funded but was handed over to AstraZeneca with an exclusive patent, in a deal brokered by the British government. The company has since refused to share the technology and know-how needed to develop the vaccine with the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 patent pool, known as C-TAP. Other major pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna have also refused to join C-TAP.

Tomorrow’s talks come amid a renewed push from the United States to resolve the impasse at the WTO after the country threw its weight behind a vaccine intellectual property waiver in May.

Tim Bierley, pharma campaigner at Global Justice Now, said:

“For more than a year, the UK has obstructed efforts to scale up the world’s vaccine supply, forcing the global south to rely on donations that are always too little and too late. Not only has the British government grabbed far more vaccines than we need, they’re actively working to stop low and middle-income countries producing their own vaccines. It’s shameful.

“Intellectual property and trade secrets are two of the biggest barriers to increasing global vaccine manufacturing. But the British government has doggedly defended a system that allows the rich world to hoard vaccines, while millions die in poorer countries.

“These figures demonstrate the horrifying scale of vaccine apartheid – and 10,000 are dying each day as a result. At tomorrow’s WTO meeting, the UK must stop holding up efforts to waive vaccine intellectual property and Boris Johnson must give up his reckless indifference to mounting global covid deaths.”