In a report on Covid-19 and vaccines, the non-governmental organization (NGO) defending human rights considers that most pharmaceutical companies do not give priority to the poorest countries.
The document comes when a world summit on vaccines is scheduled for today. US President Joe Biden has pledged to announce additional commitments to support immunization in the world's least developed countries.
"Vaccinating the world is our only way out of this crisis. It should be time to welcome these companies, who created these vaccines so quickly, as heroes," Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard said in a statement.
But he then added: "Instead, to their shame and our collective sadness, 'Big Pharma's intentional blockage of knowledge transfer, and their maneuvers in favor of wealthy states, have created a vaccine shortage that is entirely predictable and utterly devastating for so many others."
The international organization reviewed the policies of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax (whose vaccine has not yet been approved) on human rights, pricing, intellectual property, knowledge and technology sharing, dose distribution and transparency.
And concluded that "to varying degrees the six vaccine developers did not respect their responsibilities and matters of human rights."
Of the 5.76 billion doses administered, only 0.3% went to low-income countries, with 79% going to "middle-income" and "high-income" countries, underlines Amnesty International.
The NGO adds that Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna expect to make a total of $130 billion in profits by the end of 2022, but stresses that "profits should never come before lives".
It also says that while most pharmaceutical groups have received "billions of dollars in government funding," vaccine makers have monopolized intellectual property, blocked technology transfers, and aggressively limited measures that would expand manufacturing of vaccines in the world.
In the document, the NGO calls on companies and governments to “change course” to provide two billion vaccines to the poorest countries.
When contacted by the organization, prior to publication of the report, all companies, except Novavax, responded and acknowledged that fair and equitable distribution, particularly in low-income countries, is essential, and highlighted their efforts in this regard, albeit without convince Amnesty International.
Covid-19 has caused at least 4,696,559 deaths worldwide, among more than 229.01 million infections by the new coronavirus registered since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest report by the Agence France-Presse.
In Portugal, since March 2020, 17,925 people have died and 1,063,100 confirmed cases of infection have been recorded, according to data from the General Directorate of Health.
The respiratory disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, detected in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China, and currently with variants identified in countries such as the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, Brazil or Peru.