Big Pharma International Jake Johnson Pandemic

Doctors Without Borders Slams U.S. for Hoarding 500 Million Vaccine Doses

Vaccine inequity is a global problem in which the U.S. is heavily implicated.
Gloved hands with COVID-19 vaccine syringe

By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders unveiled a new report Monday estimating that the United States is hoarding nearly 500 million excess coronavirus vaccine doses—the most of any country—as poor nations across the globe remain without sufficient access to lifesaving shots.

“It’s reckless and dangerous for the U.S. and other high-income countries to be sitting on excessive stocks of Covid-19 vaccines while others … are desperate to provide their most vulnerable people with even their first dose,” Dr. Carrie Teicher, director of programs at Doctors Without Borders USA, said in a statement, arguing that the Biden administration’s hoarding of doses calls into question “its claim to be a global leader on Covid-19.”

“The longer people everywhere remain unprotected, the more lives will be lost and the more likely it is that new and potentially deadlier variants will take hold,” said Teicher. “The U.S. must immediately make public and concrete commitments to redistribute excess Covid-19 vaccines globally if it truly wants to end this pandemic.”

To date, the Biden administration has pledged to donate roughly 1.1 billion surplus coronavirus vaccine doses to low-income countries, a commitment that public health campaigners have criticized as badly inadequate to meet global needs. According to the State Department, the U.S. has shipped around 177 million vaccine donations thus far.

The World Health Organization has estimated that in order to vaccinate at least 70% of the global population by next year, 11 billion doses—equitably distributed—will be necessary.

Doctors Without Borders—known internationally as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)—said Monday that “even while factoring in third-dose boosters for high-risk groups, high-income countries are hoarding an estimated 870 million excess doses,” including the nearly 500 million in the U.S. alone.

“The rapid redistribution of these doses to low- and middle-income countries could save nearly one million lives by mid-2022,” the group said. “In addition to immediately redistributing vaccine doses globally and demanding Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna share Covid-19 mRNA vaccine technology, the U.S. must remain committed and urge all countries to support the ‘TRIPS waiver’ proposal at the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property monopolies on all Covid-19 products during the pandemic.”

Last week, the U.S. surpassed 400 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered—a milestone that the Biden White House readily touted. But as Public Citizen president Robert Weissman noted in a statement Friday, “All African countries combined have had roughly 150 million doses administered.”

“Africa has a population over 1.34 billion. The U.S. population is 330 million,” Weissman said. “Put simply: Africa has four times the population of the U.S. but has administered about one-third the number of Covid vaccine doses… This unconscionable vaccine apartheid is not just leaving billions of people in African and other developing countries vulnerable to preventable disease, suffering, and death, it is dramatically increasing global poverty rates—as well as the death, disease, and hunger that accompanies severe poverty.”

In its report on Monday, Doctors Without Borders warned that “millions of doses could be tragically wasted if HICs [high-income countries] do not immediately redistribute excess doses.”

“G7 and E.U. countries alone could waste 241 million doses by the end of 2021,” the group estimated. “Still, pharmaceutical companies continue to prioritize high-profit sales to HICs over a fairer distribution of vaccines.”

As the New York Times reported over the weekend, the U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Moderna “has been supplying its shots almost exclusively to wealthy nations, keeping poorer countries waiting and earning billions in profit.” Moderna’s profits during the global coronavirus pandemic propelled two of its co-founders and one early investor to the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the U.S.

“After developing a breakthrough vaccine with the financial and scientific support of the U.S. government, Moderna has shipped a greater share of its doses to wealthy countries than any other vaccine manufacturer,” the Times noted, citing the data firm Airfinity. “Scientists at the National Institutes of Health worked with the company to develop the vaccine. The United States kicked in $1.3 billion for clinical trials and other research. And in August 2020, the government agreed to preorder $1.5 billion of the vaccine, guaranteeing that Moderna would have a market for what was an unproven product.”

The Times report intensified pressure on the Biden administration to use the U.S. government’s ownership of a key patent as leverage to force Moderna to share its vaccine recipe with the rest of the world.

“It’s not news that a pharmaceutical company puts profits first. That is what companies do,” tweeted Amy Maxmen, a reporter at Nature. “The onus is on the U.S. government to put lives over profits, particularly when they give companies massive handouts.”

Teicher of Doctors Without Borders said Monday that “the Covid-19 vaccine inequity that pharma has created by putting profits before people’s health is nothing short of shameful.”

“In addition to developing a concrete dose redistribution timeline by the end of October, the U.S. government must demand that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna share mRNA vaccine technology and know-how with other manufacturers,” Teicher added. “Sharing mRNA technologies will increase the global production and supply of Covid-19 vaccines, saving lives in this pandemic and in the future.”

6 comments

  1. Careful what you wish for. This “vaccine” seem to be more deadly than the desease – which is, of course, why the FDA approved version is NOT available in the US, only the get-out-of-jail-version under the EUA. I’m surprised Doctors Without Borders isn’t reading the fine print.

    If US gives away the APPROVED version does that mean all those receiving it in 3rd world/black/poor countries can sue Pfizer? Or do they have to sign away all their rights first?

    Better US keeps those toxic shots, injects its own people.

    O

  2. Covid is an old people’s disease (95% of victims are over age 60; the other 5% have serious medical conditions. In most countries the average age of death is 82-86; in the US it seems remarkably lower, 78.) As “the year without vaccines” showed, most people survive Covid fine without the vaccine. It is only the Elderly all over the world who benefit massively from the vaccines, saving many lives. By now, with Biden promising to drop patent protections on the vaccines, there should be billions of doses available to the third world?
    The S1-vaccines have proven “leaky” (the vaccinated can still be infected, spread the disease, and die– check out Singapore in the midst of a delta variant epidemic: moh.gov.sg/covid-19 (Over 30% of their deaths occur in the fully vaccinated with Moderna and Pfizer double jabs).
    As the Public Health administrator in Iceland noted (after a very “successful” universal vaccination campaign, accompanied by a massive Covid outbreak and the most deaths this year in August (3!)) “There can be no S1-vaccine herd immunity”. He regretted his decision to vaccinate everyone, and said the vaccines should ONLY have gone to those most Vulnerable, and the focus shifted to better hospital treatment instead. Citing Sweden, he noted that natural immunity is better and probably the only way out of the pandemic.
    Under age 70, the infection fatality rate for Covid is 0.05% (Ioannidis, WHO Bulletin, 2021). Most of the vaccine supply should have gone to Elderly in other countries, where it would save more lives.

  3. No surprise here. Who cares about the rest of the world, even if that means covid19 will remain and return? The USA supports big Pharma and its profits, and denigrates simple measures known to aid protection against the virus eg ivermectin -cheap and effective without side effects-when vaccines are unavailable or expensive or inadequate.

    1. Good point! Also since the delta variant is about all that is circulating in the US and “Although vaccine effectiveness has waned slightly against infection with Delta, data so far suggests the Moderna vaccine is approximately 50 to 95 percent effective against Delta, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 39 to 96 percent effective against Delta”, it is important that the VACCINATED Vulnerable (elderly and those with serious medical conditions) also fortify their systems with ivermectin or fluvoxamine (as well as correcting nutritional deficiencies). So probably many elderly, where their antibodies fade fast, no longer have protection from their jabs (Probably why they get a quad dose for flu vaccinations? Unless the government’s trying to kill them!) [sarc]
      The vast majority of Americans did not need the S1-vaccines, which have been shown repeatedly to be leaky, thus with no chance for herd immunity (unlike Covid infection immunity that 180 million have/or HAD which should provide better herd immunity, as much reviled Sweden showed). The whole universal immunization campaign has been associated with outbreaks (not really discussed?) and unless you are over age 60 or seriously ill, at best turns a bad flu into a milder flu.
      Even the NY TIMES is finally starting to understand!:

      October 12, 2021

      Author Headshot
      By David Leonhardt

      Good morning. An unvaccinated child is at less risk of serious Covid illness than a vaccinated 70-year-old.

  4. The donkey told the tiger, “The grass is blue.”
    The tiger replied, “No, the grass is green .”
    The discussion became heated, and the two decided to submit the issue to arbitration, so they approached the lion.
    As they approached the lion on his throne, the donkey started screaming: ′′Your Highness, isn’t it true that the grass is blue?”
    The lion replied: “If you believe it is true, the grass is blue.”
    The donkey rushed forward and continued: ′′The tiger disagrees with me, contradicts me and annoys me. Please punish him.”
    The king then declared: ′′The tiger will be punished with 3 days of silence.”
    The donkey jumped with joy and went on his way, content and repeating ′′The grass is blue, the grass is blue…”
    The tiger asked the lion, “Your Majesty, why have you punished me, after all, the grass is green?”
    The lion replied, ′′You’ve known and seen the grass is green.”
    The tiger asked, ′′So why do you punish me?”
    The lion replied, “That has nothing to do with the question of whether the grass is blue or green. The punishment is because it is degrading for a brave, intelligent creature like you to waste time arguing with an ass, and on top of that, you came and bothered me with that question just to validate something you already knew was true!”
    The biggest waste of time is arguing with the fool and fanatic who doesn’t care about truth or reality, but only the victory of his beliefs and illusions. Never waste time on discussions that make no sense. There are people who, for all the evidence presented to them, do not have the ability to understand. Others who are blinded by ego, hatred and resentment, and the only thing that they want is to be right even if they aren’t.
    When IGNORANCE SCREAMS, intelligence moves on.

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