Rich countries’ plan to treat COVID vaccines as aid sparks backlash – EURACTIV.com

The question of how COVID vaccines donated by rich countries are classified and priced could artificially increase the European Union’s development aid figures by billions of euros, according to EURACTIV.

Unequal access to COVID vaccines has been one of the most controversial topics in the last year of the pandemic, both in Europe and around the world.

In June, donor countries agreed to declare their COVID-19 vaccine donations as official development assistance, starting in 2020.

At the next meeting of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) based in Paris in January 2022, they will agree on a price for these vaccines.

The latest proposal reviewed by donor countries suggested a price per vaccine of $ 6.72, more than double the previous proposal of $ 3 per vaccine. Based on commitments made by the EU and its member states, this could increase the bloc’s official development assistance (ODA) to € 5 billion over the next two years, despite the lack of funding additional.

The previous year, discussions in the DAC about what qualifies as aid focused on migration control spending, loans and military support.

“Wealthy countries in the north of the world ordered large quantities of COVID-19 vaccines while they were in development and are now sitting on stocks approaching their expiration date,” said Nerea Craviotto, senior officer in charge of policy and advocacy at the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad).

“These vaccines were never purchased for development purposes, and they should not be labeled as such,” she added.

“We have yet to see the CAD issue ODA eligibility criteria for dose sharing. Without shared principles and guarantees, there is a huge risk that donors will use vaccine reallocation to inflate their ODA contributions, when the vaccines themselves may never reach those they are meant to benefit. “

The OECD’s DAC members, which include 19 EU member states, are expected to reach a final agreement on prices and classification in December. The issue will be on the agenda for a three-day meeting of the DAC Working Group on Development Finance Statistics, which will start on 22 November.

Donations to the COVAX initiative, intended to serve as an international coordinator of vaccine supplies, also qualify as public aid.

The EU is COVAX’s second largest donor behind the United States. However, COVAX faced its own supply chain difficulties and struggled to deliver large volumes of vaccine doses to developing countries.

Critics point out that the “vaccine nationalism” of wealthy Western states and the EU has created a situation in which developing countries cannot afford their own vaccine supplies, and that counting COVID doses as ODA would effectively reward this. behviour.

The EU, UK and Japan have also led opposition to a campaign by India and South Africa to temporarily waive intellectual property protection for COVID vaccines and afford, as well as ‘developing countries to produce their own generic versions of vaccines.

A decision on the patent waiver campaign is expected to be taken at a World Trade Organization meeting later this month.

Sources close to the talks told EURACTIV that DAC members are divided over the price per vaccine. Others would like pricing to make the difference between the more expensive Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and the dose of Astrazeneca.

Italy and Belgium are among the countries happy with the price, while Sweden is among those who want prices to be aligned with the market rate. Reservations regarding the tariff plan were also expressed by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Finland, according to EURACTIV.

Although the international community has backed the World Health Organization’s goal of vaccinating 70% of the world by next April, only 261 million of the 1.8 billion doses promised by rich countries have reached the low-income country, which equates to 14%. The EU has pledged to give 500 million jabs.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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