Big pharma is fiercely opposing measures to scale up production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. This corporate genocide must be named. Stop protecting crooks.
The crimes of big tobacco, oil and asbestos recede into shade compared with the contemporary genocide perpetrated by big pharma: deliberately limiting vaccine supply, by refusing to share technologies, in order to maintain prices and further inflate existing megaprofits (and dividends and bonuses).
The World Health Organization (WHO) asked pharma to share COVID-19 vaccine technologies in March 2020; pharma sneered and the G7 confederacy supported their refusal.
When Covax was designed, big pharma was party to the decision to limit Covax to supplying only 20 per cent of the needs of its clients, partly in order to prevent the emergence of a large monopsonic purchaser with significant pricing power.
Now, while Europe and the US are headed towards 80 per cent double dose vaccination, Africa has only enough supply to vaccinate 2 per cent of its eligible population. Will pharma be held accountable for the avoidable deaths that are even now taking place?
Far from it. The South African and Indian proposal for a limited term waiver of relevant intellectual property provisions in order to disseminate and scale up production is being fiercely opposed by pharma with the outright support of the EU and deferral and delay by the rest of the “liberal democracies”.
It seems that the racism which normalised slavery (in Europe and North America) remains alive and well.
Pharma has form. In the late 1990s pharma was selling AIDS medicines in South Africa for $10,000 per treatment year while Indian generics were selling for $350 per treatment year. A high margin for the well-off would yield more profit than a thin margin for ordinary folk. The fact that the death rate among ordinary folk would be thus inflated was immaterial.
South Africa passed a law enabling the purchase and importation of medicines from other countries, where prices were lower, but in 1997 39 pharmaceutical giants, supported by the Clinton-Gore administration, took the South African government to court, alleging they were in breach of their trade commitments.
There was a massive protest campaign with street marches in South Africa and solidarity actions around the world, including in the US.
Finally, in 2001, the US withdrew its support, concerned at the damage that was being done to the Gore presidential campaign, and the pharma case collapsed.
It was international revulsion which arrested pharma in 2001. Corporate genocide must be named. Stop protecting crooks.
Nobody is safe until everybody is safe.