Evidence mounts on Big Pharma’s efforts to undermine global vaccine equity
16 February, 2022: Two investigative reports from the British Medical Journal and Amnesty International have exposed how the pharmaceutical industry is working to undermine global efforts to tackle vaccine equity.
Amnesty International’s report, Money Calls the Shots: Pharma’s response to the Covid-19 vaccine crisis, shows how pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna have not met their own production targets and failed to share their technology and increase other global production, resulting in just 4% of people living in low-income countries receiving a full vaccination by the end of 2021.
Amnesty’s report also shows how these companies do not share their intellectual property, knowledge and technology, put in place obstacles to fair vaccine access, and actively lobby against the relaxation of intellectual property rights at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Meanwhile, the British Medical Journal has published an investigative report detailing how a BioNTech-linked consultancy, the kENUP Foundation, has actively undermined WHO efforts in Africa to develop an mRNA vaccine.
The consultancy was charged with visiting South Africa in August 2021 to observe WHO-led efforts to recreate the Moderna mRNA vaccine using publicly available knowledge. A mission report was sent to the South African Government, stating:
“The WHO Vaccine Technology Transfer Hub’s project of copying the manufacturing process of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine should be terminated immediately. This is to prevent damage to [local pharmaceutical companies] Afrigen, BioVac, and Moderna…”
Petro Terblanche, Managing Director of the local pharmaceutical company Afrigen, which is producing a more affordable version of the Moderna vaccine to be shared with African countries, hit back at the report, saying: “I don’t understand why kENUP, actively and in many forums, tries to undermine Afrigen’s work. It drains energy that I could have spent making a vaccine.”