Don’t weigh profit against safe corona vaccines

UN experts urge G7

Diplomatic Correspondent

11 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

A group of UN independent human rights experts have called upon the leaders of the world’s largest economies to ensure equal access to Covid-19 vaccines for people in the Global South, urging them not to allow the profit motive to undermine global health and equity.  

“Everyone has a right to have access to a Covid-19 vaccine that is safe, effective, timely and based on the application of the best scientific development,” the experts said ahead of the three-day summit of the G7, an intergovernmental group of leading countries, in the United Kingdom. The summit will begin today.  

Nine independent experts in a joint statement issued on Wednesday in Geneva said it was time for “international solidarity and cooperation” to assist all governments in vaccinating people and saving lives.

“It is not the time for protracted negotiations or for lobbying to erect barriers in order to protect corporate profits,” they underscored.   Despite the extraordinarily speedy production of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines, swift action has not followed to aid equal access across all countries and regions. 

“Billions of people in the Global South are being left behind. They see vaccines as a mirage or a privilege for the developed world,” explained the experts, which, they added, would “unnecessarily prolong the crisis, drastically increase the death toll and deepen economic distress, possibly sowing the seeds of social unrest.”

The rights experts echoed their statement of last year on the human costs of the pandemic, saying that at a time when millions face poverty and hunger, G7 leaders must make it their top priority to protect the life and health of people in the most socially and economically precarious situations.

“It is shocking that, according to WHO (World Health Organization) reports, less than one percent of all vaccines administered so far have gone to low-income countries,” they pointed out, stressing that intellectual property rights must not become a barrier to low-cost production and expanded supply.