Responding to news that Pfizer reported $14 billion in third-quarter revenue for vaccines and is set to earn $36 billion from vaccine sales by the end of the year on the back of the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights Patrick Wilcken said there’s no good reason the company should be hurting the chances of millions of people to get vaccinated.
“That Pfizer has been able to earn billions of dollars in revenue in the last three months alone, while failing to provide vaccines to billions of people, is a failure of catastrophic proportions,” said Wilcken. “Not only has the vast majority of its vaccines gone to high and upper-middle-income countries but Pfizer has also consistently refused to waive its intellectual property rights and share vaccine technology, while at the same time benefitting from billions of dollars in government funding and advance orders from wealthy countries.”
Pfizer expects to make almost as much revenue in 2021 from COVID-19 vaccine sales alone as it earned in all of 2020, according to the drugmaker’s CEO Albert Bourla.
The company said it expects revenue from the vaccines to be $36 billion by the end of 2021, up from an estimated $33.5 billion the company had predicted earlier in the year.
In 2020, it brought in $41.9 billion in revenue.
Bourla said the company will donate 1 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the US government for a “not-for-profit price” so they can be donated to developing nations around the world.
India and South Africa applied for approval of a waiver over mRNA vaccine Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for Moderna’s and Pfizer’s formula so that they could produce those to help their countries as well as many developing countries to recover faster from the pandemic.
The European Union (EU), United Kingdom, Japan and Australia are accused of holding the world hostage by refusing to support a waiver of COVID-19 vaccine patents for the world to recover from the pandemic.
The United States initially shared that view, but President Joe Biden announced that America will support a temporary lifting of the IPRs on COVID-19 vaccines.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) remains at an impasse for one year.
Pfizer is the first and only COVID-19 vaccine approved in the US, and the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 last week, making it the first to be available to younger children.
“The apparently unquenchable thirst for profits of big pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer, is fuelling an unprecedented human rights crisis,” said Wilcken. “If left unchecked, the rights of billions of people around the world to life and to health will continue to be in jeopardy.”
“It’s not too late for Pfizer and its big pharma competitors to do what’s right for humanity and fulfill their human rights obligations,” said Wilcken. “At the end of the month, WTO members will meet in Geneva to discuss the TRIPS Waiver to temporarily lift intellectual property rights, which could expand the world’s manufacturing capacity of Covid-19 vaccines.”
“Big pharma must stop lobbying against the waiver so that world production can be boosted and diversified, and every person on the planet can get a shot at these life-saving vaccines,” said Wilcken.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said the pandemic “will continue to undermine global and regional supply chains… unless vaccine access is boosted in developing countries given that production systems are interconnected”.
Citing comments from John Denton, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Commerce, UNCTAD says the global economy is expected to lose $9.2 trillion if access to vaccines is not widened.
Developed countries are expected to shoulder around half of that cost, but it is a burden that will hit the poorest nations of the world hardest.
Amnesty International is a movement of 10 million people which seeks to awaken the humanity in everyone and mobilize supporters in campaigns for human rights.