World

Donating unwanted vaccine doses should not be counted as part of the aid budget – Oxfam reaction

In response to the statement issued today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee, which says that countries will be able to count donations of unwanted vaccine doses as part of their foreign aid commitment, for a guideline cost of $6.72 a dose, Oxfam's Health Policy Manager, Anna Marriott, said:

"This guidance is a double insult to the world's poorest countries. Firstly, rich countries bought up many more doses than they could use at a time of limited supply, preventing millions of people in developing countries from getting life-saving vaccines. Now they are free to charge any donations of unwanted doses to their aid budgets, to the detriment of other essential aid spending.

"This guidance means the UK could technically charge double the price it originally paid for the 30 million excess AstraZeneca doses it has donated to date, to an already significantly reduced aid budget at a time of unprecedented global need.

"We implore the UK government not to do this but, at an absolutely minimum, ensure any donations of excess unwanted vaccines and other life-saving COVID-19 technologies originally bought for use in this country are counted as additional to the UK's aid budget.

"Counting vaccine donations as aid is not only immoral, but there's a high chance of failure if the donations replace aid that would have supported health systems and other non-vaccine related costs that are critical for their delivery, especially at a time when COVAX has run out of funds.

"Due to the lack of safeguards in this guidance, rich countries could count donated vaccines as aid that may never reach arms, because they are donated too close to expiry or without essential equipment such as syringes. Between them G7 countries currently have over 240 million doses which are due to expire at the end of February.

"Many of the same rich country governments that this guidance applies to are also those continuing to block proposals to enable and encourage the widescale generic production of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries -- measures that would scale up vaccine access, drive down prices and diminish the need for donations in the first place.

"If generic production of vaccines were allowed, each $6.72 of aid could purchase five vaccine doses, instead of just one."

/ENDS

For more info or to arrange an interview please contact: Sarah Dransfield on 07884 114825 / sdransfield@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to editors:

  • In a recent statement, Oxfam joined with more than 30 organisations around the world to call for the plan to count donated excess Covid-19 vaccines as aid to be scrapped following failure of OECD DAC members to agree According to Airfinity data, G7 countries have 241 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines which will expire in March 2022.
  • Experts have estimated that the Pfizer vaccine could be produced for as little as $1.18 a dose: https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/vaccine-monopolies-make-cost-vaccinating-world-against-covid-least-5-times-more
  • The UK government is reported to have paid $3 a dose for the AstraZeneca vaccine. The UK government has committed to donate 100 million excess vaccine doses in total but to date has delivered less than a third of these. If the UK government keeps its commitment to donate 100 million doses and all are AstraZeneca, and it continues to charge these at $6.72 [£5] to the UK aid budget, the UK would be allocating a total of $572 million [£425million] more to the UK aid budget than it actually paid for these doses.