Just over 13 Covid jabs have been given per 100 people, world-wide, as of 25 April. That’s about five more vaccinations per 100 people since 1 April.
Over April, vaccination levels have increased, but only in a straight line, about 0.2 more jabs per 100 each day, not exponentially, as they need to. At current rates it will take more than a year to give everyone in the world one dose, and two years to give everyone full vaccination, even taking into account the contribution of the Janssen single-dose vaccine.
Probably long before then, the vaccine protection for those who have already had jabs will wane, and they will need booster vaccinations.
And the longer the wait to vaccinate, the greater the risk that new virus variants will evolve which evade the existing jabs.
Usually the world vaccine industry produces about five billion doses of various vaccines per year. There are pencilled-in plans for 10 billion extra this year, but there are many obstacles to that target. More like 15 billion doses are needed.
One obstacle to production is patent protections. The big pharmaceutical companies which have developed the vaccines want to keep protection on their patents (though all their technologies depended on vast government subsidies for development) and reap their profits ($4 billion for Pfizer this year).
Another is vaccine nationalism. All the vaccine production lines depend on inputs from many countries. Export restriction on those inputs can stall production.
A third is the control by Big Pharma of the know-how and technology needed to set up new production lines. Vaccine production is complex and high-tech. Unless governments cooperate to force Big Pharma to make the know-how widely available, production will be limited to a few sites.
The way to break through all those obstacles is public requisitioning of Big Pharma, through a cooperative effort by governments coordinated by the World Health Organisation. The labour movements must demand that medical need comes before private profit.
The vaccination programme in Britain has gone well thanks to the structuring of health care here as a single coordinated service, free at the point of need. Other countries have systems organised to supply health care only in response to “market demand” (from those who can afford it), or simply lacking in infrastructure. They need massive aid, and the political will to impose provision of at least this health-care as a single coordinated service, free at the point of need.
To win the race between the spread and mutation of the virus, and the vaccination programmes, the labour movement must demand: requisition Big Pharma!