Covid-19 vaccines are 500% more expensive than necessary: Oxfam Novib
Vaccinating the global population against Covid-19 is 500% times more expensive than it needs to be, an alliance of over 70 organizations stated which included Oxfam Novib, NOS reported. This is due to the monopoly of a few pharmaceutical companies, the alliance claimed.
There is a considerable gap between the number of people who are vaccinated in high- and low-income countries. In a number of countries, only one percent of the population is vaccinated.
"New research showed that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna demand an extra cost of 41 billion US dollars from government", Oxfam Novib reported on Thursday.
In 2021, the Netherlands alone paid 470 million euros too much due to the monopoly a handful of pharmaceutical companies have on the Covid-19 vaccines. The extra money wealthy countries are paying for vaccines could be put to better use equipping low- and middle-income countries with vaccines, the organizations said.
Oxfam Novib also argued for a temporary lift on the patent of Covid-19 vaccines. Policy advisor at Oxfam Novib Ben van Gils said to NPO Radio 1 this measure is required due to the unique circumstances. “We are in a very exceptional situation that requires exceptional measures. The Netherlands should support lifting the patent on vaccines.”
The Association of Innovative Medicines, a branch organization of pharmaceutical companies said in response they do not see lifting the patent on vaccines would bring about the desired outcome. “We share the view that everyone should be vaccinated as soon as possible”, spokesperson of the association, Franc de Korte, said. “But at the moment, practice shows that releasing the patents is not beneficial. You also need the knowledge and skills to make vaccines. The number of people who can do that is limited”, De Korte said.
De Korte also pointed out that pharmaceutical companies charge higher prices from wealthy countries than they do from countries with a low income. Yet, also COVAX who is responsible for distributing vaccines in low- and middle-income countries for the WHO said they pay five times more than is necessary. The number of people who would be vaccinated in middle-income countries were to be considerably higher were there no monopolies on vaccines.
Oxfam Novib said they expect that in 2022, the Netherlands will have paid around one billion euros too much for Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.