UNI Global Union is one of 87 civil society groups calling on Moderna to help end vaccine apartheid.
The organizations—coordinated by the People’s Vaccine Alliance and including Public Citizen, the ITUC and Oxfam—sent a 16 November letter to the company’s CEO Stéphane Bancel that asked whether Moderna will transfer vaccine technology to qualified manufacturers through the World Health Organization to speed up production. They called on Moderna to disclose if it will sell vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries at a not-profit price, including through COVAX, the global program distributing COVID-19 vaccines. The groups also demanded the company to immediately disclose whether it has excess production capacity to help meet the massive vaccine shortage in low- and middle-income countries.
“Moderna lags behind even its recalcitrant Big Pharma counterparts when it comes to offering a dose of compassion to the world in this time of need,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “The Biden administration and WHO have asked for Moderna’s help, and so far Moderna largely has spurned them, despite the U.S. government’s essential role developing the NIH-Moderna vaccine and significant contributions to making Moderna executives billionaires. It is past time to share the NIH-Moderna vaccine with the world.”
The NIH-Moderna vaccine is the best defence against COVID-19, with the potential to save millions of lives worldwide in the near future and help end the pandemic. Yet Moderna has shipped a greater share of doses to wealthy nations than any other COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, leaving low- and middle-income countries without doses or with long waits and high prices.
“Thousands are dying each day from COVID-19 while Moderna keeps its vaccine out of reach,” said Max Lawson, co-chair of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. “Any and all of the company’s spare capacity should be used to ramp up vaccine manufacturing. But there is another huge pool of untapped global manufacturing capacity that Moderna’s CEO Stéphane Bancel can unleash – if he immediately shares the technology and know-how needed to manufacture Moderna’s jab – especially with the WHO’s mRNA hub in South Africa.”
While the majority of the populations in rich nations like the European Union and United States are vaccinated against COVID, only 4.5 per cent of people in low-income countries have received one dose.
“The virus does not differentiate between people in low-income countries and people in rich nations, and neither should pharmaceutical giants regarding access to life-saving medicine,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. “Moderna has received billions in public money to develop this vaccine and must recognize its obligation to the public to help vaccinate the world. No one is truly safe until we all are.”