The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Joe Karp-Sawey, media manager
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Nicola Sturgeon urged to speak out as 'shameful' stats reveal UK Government has delivered less than 10% of promised vaccine doses to low-income countries

First Minister urged to protect lives globally and in Scotland by championing real solutions to vaccine crisis


Pharmaceutical companies and rich nations are delivering just one in seven of the vaccine doses promised for developing countries, a new report published today by the People's Vaccine Alliance has revealed.

The report, "A Dose of Reality," found that of the 1.8 billion COVID vaccine donations promised by rich nations only 261 million doses - 14 per cent - have been delivered to date, while western pharmaceutical companies have delivered only 12 per cent of the doses they allocated to COVAX, the initiative designed to help low- and middle-income countries get fair access to COVID vaccines.

The UK Government, which has been actively blocking calls from countries like South Africa and India to be allowed to make their own vaccines, has only delivered 9.6 million - less than 10 per cent - of the 100 million doses it promised to poorer nations. Meanwhile it has itself taken half a million doses from COVAX, despite extreme vaccine shortages in developing countries and having already secured more than enough doses for British people from direct deals with the pharmaceutical companies.

Scottish members of the People's Vaccine Alliance, Oxfam Scotland, Global Justice Now Scotland and Christian Aid Scotland, say the UK Government's actions amount to a 'staggering act of selfishness' and are urging Nicola Sturgeon to speak out.

Campaigners say the UK's position is not only morally wrong but, with less than two per cent of people in developing countries fully vaccinated, that it could have grave consequences for Scotland. Allowing Covid to run unchecked across the world could give rise to deadly mutations, rendering existing vaccines obsolete and potentially leading to further unnecessary loss of life and more painful lockdowns here.

They say the First Minister must call on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to back plans to end pharmaceutical companies' monopoly control of vaccines, which is placing a deadly stranglehold on global supply.

Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "Not only has the UK Government utterly failed to deliver on its vaccine promises to poor countries, it's been pilfering one of the only supplies they have access to whilst also blocking efforts to scale up production. This isn't just staggeringly selfish but it's also spectacularly short-sighted and will cost lives around the world and potentially here in Scotland too. The First Minister has a duty to speak out and call for the UK Government to compel pharmaceutical companies to share their lifesaving vaccines and technology with the rest of the world."

With a week to go before leaders meet for the G20 summit in Rome, The People's Vaccine Alliance - is calling on them to stop breaking their promises to vaccinate the world. The Alliance is instead asking the UK Government to instead support proposals - already backed by over 100 countries, including the US and France, to compel companies to share their lifesaving vaccine recipes and technology in order to urgently increase supply.

Liz Murray, Head of Campaigns at Global Justice Now Scotland, said: "With thousands of people dying around the world from Covid every day, it's utterly shameful that even the pathetically small number of vaccines offered by rich countries haven't been delivered. The First Minister must urge the UK Government to end its indefensible protection of the monopolies of pharmaceutical corporations which is artificially restricting the supply of vaccines - particularly to low income countries. Grand plans to vaccinate the world will not be delivered by empty promises, but with the suspending of those monopolies."

The coalition is calling for the First Minister to throw her weight behind a motion in the Scottish Parliament, laid by Scottish Labour's Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Sarah Boyack MSP, and already supported by 55 MSPs.

The motion calls for the Prime Minister to back plans to waive intellectual property rules and insist that the vaccine know-how and technology is shared via the World Health Organisation's Covid Technology Access Pool, enabling a life-saving ramping up in global vaccine production.

Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Christian Aid Scotland, said: "Developing countries have been hit with an endless tide of inadequate gestures and broken promises from rich countries like the UK, which are simultaneously blocking the real solutions to vaccine inequality. Protecting lives - both here in Scotland and around the world - should be more important than protecting the outsized profits of pharmaceutical corporations who have already made billions from this crisis."

Global Justice Now is a democratic social justice organisation working as part of a global movement to challenge the powerful and create a more just and equal world. We mobilise people in the UK for change, and act in solidarity with those fighting injustice, particularly in the global south.

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