This excellent bit of journalism from Indian television lays bare the sort of pressure countries are being put under the accept the mRNA Pfizer vaccine.
See below for an article that has been published in mostly countries from the global south.
WHEN CORPORATIONS RULE THE WORLD
Gravitas: Pfizer’s abusive vaccine deals
Pfizer wants military bases as “guarantee” for vaccines
Pfizer has become a terror. The US pharma company is reportedly asking for military bases and sovereign assets as guarantee for vaccines. WION’s Palki
Sharma has the details.
This article has appeared in several outlets, but not in mainstream news sources.
A medical worker fills a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Tokyo Medical Centre, February 17, 2021. Photo: Behrouz Mehri/Pool via Reuters/File Photo.
24 February, 2021
However, the government officials from Argentina and the unnamed country who spoke to the Bureau felt Pfizer’s demands went beyond those of other vaccine companies, and beyond those of Covax, an organisation created to ensure low-income countries can access vaccines, which is also requiring its members to indemnify manufacturers. This presents an additional burden for some countries because it means having to hire specialist lawyers and sometimes pass complex new legislation, so manufacturers’ liabilities can be waived – Write Madlen Davies, Rosa Furneaux, Iván Ruiz, and Jill Langlois
Pfizer has been accused of “bullying” Latin American governments in COVID-19 vaccine negotiations and has asked some countries to put up sovereign assets, such as embassy buildings and military bases, as a guarantee against the cost of any future legal cases, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.
In the case of one country, demands made by the pharmaceutical giant led to a three-month delay in a vaccine deal being agreed. For Argentina and Brazil, no national deals were agreed at all. Any hold-up in countries receiving vaccines means more people contracting COVID-19 and potentially dying.
Officials from Argentina and the other Latin American country, which cannot be named as it has signed a confidentiality agreement with Pfizer, said the company’s negotiators demanded additional indemnity against any civil claims citizens might file if they experienced adverse effects after being inoculated. In Argentina and Brazil, Pfizer asked for sovereign assets to be put up as collateral for any future legal costs.
One official who was present in the unnamed country’s negotiations described Pfizer’s demands as “high-level bullying” and said the government felt like it was being “held to ransom” in order to access life-saving vaccines.
Campaigners are already warning of a “vaccine apartheid” in which rich Western countries may be inoculated years before poorer regions. Now, legal experts have raised concerns that Pfizer’s demands amount to an abuse of power.
“Pharmaceutical companies shouldn’t be using their power to limit life-saving vaccines in low- and middle-income countries,” said Professor Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre on National and Global Health Law. “[This] seems to be exactly what they’re doing.”
Protection against liability shouldn’t be used as “the sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of desperate countries with a desperate population,” he added.
Pfizer has been in talks with more than 100 countries and supranational organisations, and has supply agreements with nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay. The terms of those deals are unknown.
Pfizer told the Bureau: “Globally, we have also allocated doses to low- and lower-middle-income countries at a not-for-profit price, including an advance purchase agreement with Covax to provide up to 40 million doses in 2021. We are committed to supporting efforts aimed at providing developing countries with the same access to vaccines as the rest of the world.” It declined to comment on ongoing private negotiations.
Most governments are offering indemnity – exemption from legal liability – to the vaccine manufacturers they are buying from. This means that a citizen who suffers an adverse effect after being vaccinated can file a claim against the manufacturer and, if successful, the government would pay the compensation. In some countries people can also apply for compensation through specific structures without going to court.
This is fairly typical for vaccines administered in a pandemic. In many cases adverse effects are so rare that they do not show up in clinical trials and only become apparent once hundreds of thousands of people have received the vaccine (a 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine, for example, was eventually linked to narcolepsy). Because manufacturers have developed vaccines quickly and because they protect everyone in society, governments often agree to cover the cost of compensation.
However, the government officials from Argentina and the unnamed country who spoke to the Bureau felt Pfizer’s demands went beyond those of other vaccine companies, and beyond those of Covax, an organisation created to ensure low-income countries can access vaccines, which is also requiring its members to indemnify manufacturers. This presents an additional burden for some countries because it means having to hire specialist lawyers and sometimes pass complex new legislation, so manufacturers’ liabilities can be waived.
India is large enough to resist entities like Pfizer that they have had difficulties with in the past
Pfizer Inc has withdrawn an application for emergency-use authorisation of its COVID-19 vaccine in India that it has developed with Germany’s BioNTech, the company told the Reuters news agency on Friday.
The United States company, which was the first drugmaker to apply for emergency use authorisation of its COVID-19 vaccine in India, had a meeting with the country’s drugs regulator on Wednesday and the decision was made after that, the company said.
“Based on the deliberations at the meeting and our understanding of additional information that the regulator may need, the company has decided to withdraw its application at this time,” it said in a statement to Reuters.
“Pfizer will continue to engage with the authority and re-submit its approval request with additional information as it becomes available in the near future.”
Meanwhile, at almost exactly the same time New Zealand announced that they had accepted the vaccine and were putting the release on fast track.
I suspect New Zealand’s method of negotiation is to agree to any and every suggestion that is put to them by corporations that are bigger than them.
I remember Noam Chomsky talking about the neoliberal reforms in New Zealand: the only difference with the rest of the world was that it did it VOLUNTARILY, and ahead of most of the rest of the world. Chile was the first.
New Zealand has given the green light to its first Covid-19 vaccine, with Medsafe announcing provisional approving for a jab from Pfizer and BioNTech that has become a cornerstone of the global immunisation effort.
The first shipments of the vaccine, which will now face no legal hurdles at the border, are expected in the country before the end of March. New Zealand has 1.5 million doses on order for the jab, which has shown 95% effectiveness in trials.
First in line for vaccination will be border workers, a group which includes all the staff in managed isolation facilities, their families, as well as airline staff. This relatively small group is expected to be fully vaccinated within two to three weeks.