Amnesty, HRW urge Covax to reveal vaccine contracts
Workers carefully unload the crates containing the doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca at the Bulwagang Kalayaan in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City on March 4, 2021.
Presidential Photo/King Rodriguez

Amnesty, HRW urge Covax to reveal vaccine contracts

(Agence France-Presse) - May 7, 2021 - 10:01am

GENEVA, Switzerland -- Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Friday urged the Covax global vaccine-sharing scheme to "enhance transparency" by publishing its contracts with jab manufacturers.

In a joint statement, HRW, Amnesty and the US consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen said they had written to Covax with recommendations relating to transparency, as well as vaccine availability and affordability.

"Governments and other donors funding Covax should demand maximum transparency and accountability, including to verify all commitments by companies to supply Covax at non-profit prices or minimal profit pricing through third-party audits whose results are publicly shared," they said.

Covax seeks to ensure poor countries have equitable access to vaccines to combat the pandemic.

The facility is co-led by the World Health Organization, the Gavi vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. 

Doses are distributed by the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, which has expertise in vaccine logistics.

Under Covax, the cost of vaccines for the 92 poorest participating economies is covered by donors.

Covax has signed deals of varying levels of commitment with AstraZeneca, Novavax, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi-GSK and Moderna.

The facility has so far shipped more than 53 million Covid-19 vaccine doses globally to 121 participating territories.

"Publishing contracts and prices... is a good way to start ensuring that vaccines are affordable and available for billions of people who desperately need them," said Arvind Ganesan, HRW's business and human rights director.

The three non-governmental organizations wrote to Covax, urging it to publish all contracts on vaccine research, development and procurement, and disclose pricing details.

Covax replied in March saying its contracts contained commercially sensitive and proprietary information protected under confidentiality obligations that could be disclosed.

The NGOs said Covax should not rely on confidentiality clauses but instead "publish all its contracts to facilitate accountability over public expenditure".

A Gavi spokeswoman told AFP: "At Covax, every effort is made to be as transparent as possible.

"However, when it comes to negotiations with manufacturers, when you are trying to engineer the largest and most complex roll-out of vaccines in history, involving the largest number of producers ever, some room for maneuver is required."

The spokeswoman said that once the vaccines have been procured, Covax partner UNICEF "will publish related prices".

"We feel it is the best way to balance the need for transparency with the need to get the best value for money for Covax's participants and donors."

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