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Anglican Alliance calls on governments to take control of vaccine decisions

21 May 2021

Production, supply, and price should not be decided by pharmaceuticals, report says

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A CALL for governments rather than pharmaceutical companies to take control of decisions about vaccine production, supply, allocation, and price is among the recommendations of a new Anglican Alliance paper on Covid-19 vaccine equity.

The paper, produced by the Alliance’s health and community network on Saturday, urges the Church in every part of the Communion to “use its moral authority to demand urgent change, so that everyone everywhere has fair and timely access to the vaccines”.

While praising the “astounding” achievement of vaccine development, it identifies “insufficient harnessing of capacity” to produce and deliver them worldwide. It quotes the Easter-vigil sermon of the Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, which warned of “vaccine apartheid”, and of the failure of the vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX and bilateral agreements to procure vaccines.

“Throughout the pandemic, money has been found by rich countries to fund necessary action,” the paper argues. “This has involved significant opportunity costs which have required active political management. The same is needed on a global level. . . The estimated cost of action is a tiny fraction of the cost of inaction, making economic arguments about unaffordability untenable but global statesmanship will be required to negotiate the political challenges.”

An ambitious list of actions, recommended for inclusion in Churches’ lobbying efforts, concludes the paper. They include the development by governments and pharmaceutical companies of a global strategy for “rapid and massive upscaling of vaccine production and distribution to enable the world’s population to be vaccinated as quickly as possible”.

Last month, the UN reported that the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which works to provide equitable access to, and implementation of, Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines, faced a funding gap of $19 billion for 2021.

Vaccines should be recognised as “public goods”, the paper says; pharmaceutical companies should be “fairly rewarded and incentivised for their vital work but must not prioritise profit over saving lives”. Governments should not cede decision-making about vaccine production, supply, allocation, and price to pharmaceutical companies, but “use their authority, and the obligation of power, to act for the common good”.

The paper concurs with this week’s Christian Aid paper in calling for the “remission of debts which impair countries’ ability to purchase or deliver vaccines” (see separate story).

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