VACCINATING the poorest half of humanity – 3.7 billion people - against coronavirus could cost less than the 10 biggest pharmaceutical companies make in four months, according to Oxfam.

The Cowley-based charity is urging governments and pharmaceutical companies to guarantee that vaccines, tests, and treatments will be patent-free and equitably distributed to all nations and people, in its advice to the World Health Assembly next week.

The virtual meeting on Monday will be attended by health ministers from 194 countries.

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The Gates Foundation has estimated that the cost of procuring and delivering a safe and effective vaccine to the world’s poorest people is $25 billion (£20 billion).

Last year the top 10 pharmaceutical companies made $89 billion (£72 billion) in profits – an average of just under $30 billion (£24 billion) every four months.

Oxford Mail:

The EU has proposed the voluntary pooling of patents for coronavirus vaccines in its resolution for the World Health Assembly.

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Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB chief executive, said “A vaccine is the only long-term solution for everyone, so there has to be a guarantee that, when found, it will be distributed fairly and free of charge to people according to need not auctioned off to the highest bidder.”