What might Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine announcement mean for global equity and distribution justice?

While we acknowledge Pfizer’s reports that their vaccine appears to be 90% effective, we also know that a vaccine will not be able to do its job if people cannot access it or afford to pay for it. Furthermore, unless scientists are able to review the data, we will not yet be able to determine the vaccine’s efficacy and safety long-term. The drug corporation shared the news with media that their COVID-19 vaccine is showing great promise in virus prevention yet we know the data is yet to be peer-reviewed. Conveniently, the headlines have simultaneously increased Pfizer stock prices. The vaccine made in partnership with BioNTech, a German drug company that received €375 million from the German government in public funds, is supported by limited documentation and isn’t open for further external review.Google Images

Pfizer and BioNTech, we call on you to deliver a People’s Vaccine: open your technology so that if this vaccine is indeed proven to be safe and effective, the billions of doses that will be needed worldwide can be produced at the lowest price possible to help ensure global access and prevent vaccine apartheid. We call on you to be transparent with the scientific data and prioritize public health need over share prices by sharing all data, knowledge, and intellectual property with the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool C-TAP.

“If we are to curb this pandemic as fast as possible, we call on Pfizer and BioNTech along with all corporations and universities involved with developing coronavirus vaccines to share their vaccines with the world so that we can meet the global demand and make sure no country is left behind in terms of their access to a safe and effective vaccine. None of us are safe until all of us are safe. We need a people’s vaccine that is safe and effective for everyone worldwide, not rushed for political gain and free for all,” says Merith Basey, Executive Director for UAEM North America. 

Yesterday, Public Citizen released complementary information regarding the vaccine’s publicly-funded technology and its role in developing the immunization. Unlike suggestions that the vaccine being developed by Pfizer is entirely privately funded, the innovation also relies on publicly-funded technologies paid for with taxpayer funds. The US government has already committed nearly $2 billion to pre-pay for 100 million doses which would serve just 50 million people in the US since the dosage requires 2 shots.

While the vaccine is necessary, what we are asking is a preventative measure to avoid what can and will be are production and tentative rollout issues, which is demonstrative of Darwin’s theory of evolution--survival of the fittest. In which, the healthiest and wealthiest will get treatment first and vaccines will be hoarded.