Amnesty's latest report on vaccination distribution is a follow-up to the "report A Double Dose of Inequality" from September 2021, which evaluated the influence of pharmaceutical companies on vaccine distribution. Photo: Mufid Majnun. Source: Unsplash.

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Amnesty criticizes pharmaceutical companies for unequal vaccine distribution

Today, the population of many countries, including Sweden, is urged to take three doses of vaccine for adequate protection against becoming seriously ill or dying in covid-19. But only four percent of the population in low-income countries have been vaccinated with two doses, according to a report published by Amnesty in February. Now the organization is calling on the pharmaceutical companies for change.

About ten billion doses of covid-19 vaccine were produced by various drug suppliers around the world in 2021. Several countries now recommend a third dose of covid-19 vaccine to their populations to ensure adequate protection against serious illness and death.

In mid-February, Amnesty International published one investigation report which shows that only 4,2 percent of the population in low-income countries had been vaccinated with two doses at the turn of the year. This compares with 42,4 percent in the world's richest countries at the same time. Amnesty's report also shows that only two percent of Pfizer / BioNTech's and Moderna's combined vaccine deliveries went to low - income countries in the autumn of 2021.

Vaccine availability and prices reinforce global inequalities

The World Health Organization (WHO) aims to 70 percent of the world's population must be fully vaccinated by the end of the year. The WHO emphasizes that this is possible based on the extensive research that generates new vaccines and the amount of existing vaccines that will continue to be produced during the year. The WHO believes that it is the failure to distribute the vaccine evenly over the countries of the world that has caused the inequality.

Amnesty calls on pharmaceutical companies to take action to reduce vaccine inequality in the world. Photo: Prasesh Shiwakoti (Lomash). Source: Unsplash.

Amnesty also targets criticism of pharmaceutical companies which produce vaccines for their pricing and that they have chosen to prioritize deliveries to high-income countries. Rajat Khosla, Amnesty's Head of Research, Advocacy and Policy, calls on the world's pharmaceutical companies to take action to reduce vaccine inequality. Partly by prioritizing deliveries to low-income countries in 2022 to achieve the WHO's goals, and partly by releasing patents on vaccines and their surrounding research.

"We urge investors to take immediate responsibility for their actions and use their significant influence on pharmaceutical companies and push to remove barriers to fair access to vaccines and promote accountability and transparency," said Rajat Khosla. 

Greater vaccine resistance in low-income countries

In a interview with SVT Sweden's vaccine coordinator Richard Bergström comments on the differences in vaccine rates in the world. He believes that there are other reasons that also explain the low number of vaccinated in low-income countries, in addition to the vaccine's distribution and pricing. One such example is greater vaccine resistance among the population in low-income countries, according to Richard Bergström. He also describes how the international vaccine collaboration Covax, which was established to redistribute vaccines to low-income countries, has purchased large quantities of doses from the pharmaceutical manufacturer Astra Zeneca, which were manufactured in India but were never delivered for redistribution. This is due to India introducing a ban on vaccine exports for much of 2021 after the country experienced a serious state of infection at the emergence of a new virus mutation. 

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