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UK News

Christian Aid demands Covid-19 vaccine be made available to world's poorest

by Tola Mbakwe

Christian Aid has warned that access to any successful vaccine must be shared with the world's poorest people and not become a "global postcode lottery."

The charity has responded to an announcement by pharmaceutical company Pfizer and firm BioNTech about promising results from the clinical trials of their vaccine. It has proved to be 90 per cent effective so far. 

Although they are interim results which yet to be peer-reviewed, and the vaccine has not yet received regulatory approval, the UK has secured access to 40 million doses. 

Christian Aid is calling on governments to support the global call for a people's vaccine made at the World Health Assembly in May. 

During the assembly Pfizer and BioNTech decided not to participate in patent pool that would allow manufacturers to replicate the vaccine at an affordable cost for the world's poorest countries.

Dr Matti Kohonen, head of economic justice policy at Christian Aid, told Premier it's imperative something is done to reverse that decision. 

"US, UK, Switzerland, countries with quite large pharmaceutical industries, were saying that any vaccine should not be shared with developing countries. And so they didn't participate in what's called the patent pool, where we can, once we know of a vaccine, share the technology to those countries who don't have big pharmaceutical industries, but who rely really on generic drugs to get access to some of the best vaccines and some of the best treatments available."

He said this will impact Latin American countries as well as others like India and South Africa. 

Christian Aid has called for Pfizer and BioNTech to make its vaccine cheaper and also participate in a patent pool.

"The current doses - and this vaccine will require two doses - seem to cost $19.50, so basically $40 for administering an effective dose of a vaccine that provides immunity. What we really need is for Pfizer and BioNTech to bring the price down for developing countries," Dr Kohonen said.

"Secondly, they need to participate in a patent pool shared technology, facilitated by international institutions like the World Health Organization who have already set up the Kovax and the vaccine pools so that the generic manufacturers can do this at a fraction of the cost of the current Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. That's what gets us the billions of people vaccinated."

Christian Aid has also called, in its recent report Building Back With Justice, for governments to ensure that access to Covid-19 testing and treatment services are universally free at the point of use.

Listen to Premier's interview with Dr Kohonen here: 


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