Oxfam slams OECD position on deducting vaccines from aid spending

Campaigns and Advocacy, Foreign aid, Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 16 Feb 2022

In response to the statement issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee, which says that countries will be able to count donations of unwanted vaccine doses as part of their foreign aid commitment, for a guideline cost of USD$6.72 a dose, Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager, Anna Marriott, said:

“This guidance is a double insult to the world’s poorest countries. Firstly, rich countries bought up many more doses than they could use at a time of limited supply, preventing millions of people in developing countries from getting life-saving vaccines. Now they are free to charge any donations of unwanted doses to their aid budgets, to the detriment of other essential aid spending.

“Rich countries should donate any excess doses immediately to developing countries, but this should not be at the expense of aid countries desperately need to help save lives. It is not only immoral, but there’s a high chance of failure if the donations replace aid that would have supported health systems and other non-vaccine related costs that are critical for their delivery, especially at a time when COVAX has run out of funds.

“Due to the lack of safeguards in this guidance, rich countries could count donated vaccines as aid that can never reach arms, because they are donated too close to expiry or without essential equipment such as syringes. Between them G7 countries currently have over 240 million doses which are due to expire at the end of February.

“Many of the same rich country governments that this guidance applies to are also those continuing to block proposals to enable and encourage the widescale generic production of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries – measures that would scale up vaccine access, drive down prices and diminish the need for donations in the first place.

“If generic production of vaccines were allowed, each USD$6.72 of aid could purchase five vaccine doses, instead of just one.”

For further information or interviews, contact Lily Partland on 0418 118 687 or lilyp@oxfam.org.au