Inequality in vaccines: moral failure of capitalism | Pasqualina Curcio

In two months, 241 million doses of vaccines against Covid-19 will expire, not counting the 34 million that have already expired and were discarded in the US. These 241 million are part of the 1.200 million doses that are left over to the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and the European Union, which are also close to expiration and will end up in the landfill if they are not donated and applied before December this year (Arirfinity Report on Prognosis and Expiration of Covid-19 Vaccines for 2021 and 2022).

Despite this, the aforementioned rich countries and members of the G-7 continue to close contracts with pharmaceutical companies to purchase vaccines against Covid-19. According to the purchase schedule until June 2022 and even considering that they apply a third dose to their population, they would be surplus and most likely 2.228 million vaccines expiring by the middle of next year, an amount that is equivalent to 41% of the 5.400 million doses that they are required to vaccinate 70% of the population in low- and middle-income countries. Of these 2.228 million excess doses, 40% will be in the US warehouses, 5% in the United Kingdom (121 million), 45% in the European Union countries (999 million vaccines) and 5 % in Canada (111 million) (Airfinity).

The fact that 1.200 million vaccines are expiring in rich countries while more than half of the world's population waits to be immunized is one more manifestation of the great and inhumane inequalities that characterize the economic system that prevails in more than 95% of the world. countries of the world. It is one more sign, among many others, of the failure of capitalism to respond to the majority, which, based on exploitation, gives priority to the profit of a few over the lives of many, that same economic system that some insist on defending and qualifying as successful because of its supposed "efficiency."

In this regard, Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said: “I must be frank: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure, and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods of the poorest countries. He denounced that even when they defend equitable access, some countries and companies continue to give priority to bilateral agreements, avoiding the COVAX mechanism, which is causing an increase in prices and greater profits for the industry at the cost of less access for the peoples. .

To date, 7.500 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been produced, including production from China. About 1.500 billion are being produced a month, apparently the pharmaceutical industry has accelerated production. If this rate continues, by December 2021, 12.227 million (Airfinity) will have been manufactured. It is the case that, in the world, 11.300 billion doses are required to immunize 80% of the population over 12 years of age. This means that, if the rich countries did not accumulate and concentrate the vaccines that later expire in their warehouses and, on the contrary, there had been a fair distribution, that is, humane, of the vaccines, we would not only have been able to achieve the immunization goal before the end of 2021, but 1 million deaths could be avoided between now and June 2022. Since the pandemic began, 4.757.000 people have died.

Antonio Guterres, director general of the United Nations, reported at the recent Summit of that body held on September 22 that, so far, more than 5.700 billion doses of vaccines have been administered in the world (3.490 billion people have been vaccinated, the 44% of the world population), but that 73% of them were applied in only ten countries. He said that: “high-income countries have administered 61 times more doses per capita than low-income countries. Only 3% of Africans have been vaccinated ”. Poor countries have not vaccinated even 2% of their population.

The increasing accumulation and concentration of capital, and therefore of power, is one of the objectives and the main characteristics of the mode of production that prevails in the world today, regardless of what or, rather, at the cost of of whom and of how many. Humanity has reached the point that, in this higher phase of capitalism, concentration and with it inequality is so barbaric that not only 1% of the world population appropriates 84% ​​of what the working class produces (OXFAM ), but 5 private companies today have the monopoly and the power to decide who lives and who dies in the world, we refer to Pfizer / BioNtech, Moderna, Astrazeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax that share 45%, 24%, 12 %, 12% and 6% respectively of the world market of 100.000 million dollars in vaccines against Covid-19. Power that, obviously, is above that of the rulers and the UN itself. To the facts we refer.

The proposal made this week by Joe Biden at the 76th UN National Assembly to buy 500 million more doses of vaccines from the Pfizer company to donate them to poor countries, is not only immoral and shameless when they have just thrown 34 million Overdue doses and when the same destination could have 576 million that are due to expire between now and December 2021 in that country, but it ends up being a trap to continue guaranteeing sales, profits and power to pharmaceutical companies.

The true solution to the pandemic does not pass by leaking charity, but by intervening on the cause of inequality in access to vaccines, we refer to eliminating the monopoly of the medical-pharmaceutical complex which, in turn, passes by raising one of the most inhumane mechanisms that capitalism invented to legalize and legitimize the greatest concentration of capital and with it said monopolies / private powers: intellectual property rights and patents.

The issue of the concentration of capital that derives in private monopolies is so perverse that the very parents of monetarism / neoliberalism (the wildest of capitalism) recognize it. Friedrich von Hayek, wrote in his book "The Foundations of Freedom": "... if there is a danger that a monopolist acquires power of coercion, the most effective method to prevent it is probably to require that their prices be the same for all and prohibit any discrimination between its customers.

For his part, Milton Friedman, a disciple of Von Hayek, wrote in his book “Capitalism and Freedom”: “… the choice between the evils of private monopoly, public monopoly or public regulation cannot be done once and for all independently of the circumstances of the facts. If the technical monopoly is of a service or item that is considered essential, and if its monopoly power is considerable, it may be that even the short-term effects of a private, unregulated monopoly were intolerable. In this case, regulation or state ownership would be the most convenient. " How's it going? And it turns out that in this capitalist world in which we live and in the midst of the worst pandemic, the immoral governments of rich countries oppose the elimination of patents and, on the contrary, insist on legalizing the monopoly and the power of industry. private pharmaceutical company no matter how many die.


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