Investors are threatening to pay drug manufacturers bonuses for vaccine access

Jonathan Josephs
BBC News, Business reporter

Published
Image source, Reuters
Caption for the image

Investors would like four major coronavirus vaccine makers to provide easier access.

An overwhelming coalition of investment companies wants coronavirus vaccine manufacturers’ bosses to be stripped of their bonuses if they don’t improve distribution.

Rogier Krens, chief investment officer at Achmea Investment Management said that this could ensure a more equitable global distribution of the vaccine.

According to drug makers, they want lower-income countries to have easy access.

Globally, over nine billion doses of medication have been given.

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Mr Krens said that the group of 65 companies, which collectively control almost $3.5tn (£2.59tn) in assets, believes that vaccines are “not distributed fairly at the moment”.

China and India were the most frequently administered doses with almost three billion and 1.5 million, respectively.

Third is the USA, which has more than 500,000,000. Covax is a program that relies on Covax deliveries. It was created by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations(CEPI), who aims to make sure everyone has access to a Covid vaccination. The scheme has already distributed over 900 million vaccines.

Krens stated that companies are being asked to link their strategy and remuneration to more equitable distribution of vaccines.

He stated that they would vote against any proposal for remuneration that doesn’t consider this if they didn’t agree to fairer distribution.

If the concern isn’t resolved, Mr Krens was asked whether that meant withholding bonus payments. He replied “effectively, yes”.

Our World in Data, a partnership between Oxford University, an educational charity and an academic institution, has found that many countries with low vaccination rates are African countries such as Burundi and DR Congo. While wealthier countries like Brunei and Portugal are at the top, the UAE and Portugal have the lowest vaccination rates.

The head of World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, reiterated last week that vaccines are essential in stopping the pandemic. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu cautioned against vaccine hoarding and narrow nationalism, and said that the panademic would be ended if we eliminate inequity.


Global vaccine rollout


Scroll table


World
49

9,245,440,069
China
84

2,855,225,000
India
44

1,464,526,170
US
62

507,657,980
Brazil
67

332,076,818
Indonesia
41

281,219,803
Japan
79

201,259,462
Pakistan
32

159,058,469
Vietnam
57

153,596,950
Germany
71

149,673,801
Mexico
56

148,938,454
Russia
46

146,733,930
UK
70

133,458,192
Turkey
61

132,897,714
Bangladesh
27

132,282,376
France
73

123,812,915
Iran
60

116,210,697
Italy
74

112,176,324
Philippines
45

108,534,301
South Korea
83

104,316,837
Thailand
65

102,681,943
Spain
81

86,237,508
Argentina
72

76,760,265
Canada
77

68,764,926
Colombia
55

64,690,489
Malaysia
78

58,055,878
Egypt
20

52,819,190
Saudi Arabia
66

51,493,736
Morocco
62

50,265,580
Peru
64

49,828,703
Poland
56

47,005,555
Chile
86

44,305,833
Australia
77

42,812,691
Uzbekistan
33

39,036,802
Taiwan
68

34,890,100
Sri Lanka
64

33,918,012
Myanmar
24

31,859,036
Cuba
85

30,888,612
Cambodia
81

30,472,330
Venezuela
40

30,049,714
Ukraine
32

28,483,982
South Africa
26

27,967,541
Ecuador
70

27,304,608
Netherlands
71

27,126,882
United Arab Emirates
91

22,677,013
Nepal
33

21,988,516
Belgium
76

21,643,667
Portugal
90

19,392,011
Sweden
73

17,602,770
Kazakhstan
45

17,525,330
Greece
68

17,421,457
Israel
64

16,795,350
Austria
72

16,494,646
Romania
41

15,855,948
Czech Republic
62

15,557,149
Hungary
62

15,074,636
Nigeria
2

14,838,199
Mozambique
19

14,718,782
Iraq
14

14,140,578
Dominican Republic
52

14,088,487
Switzerland
67

13,845,606
Rwanda
41

13,132,793
Algeria
13

12,545,356
Tunisia
50

12,205,879
Denmark
79

12,192,710
Angola
12

11,615,144
Azerbaijan
46

11,346,365
Guatemala
26

11,315,836
Ethiopia
1

10,936,490
Kenya
8

10,220,981
Hong Kong
62

10,004,279
Bolivia
39

9,980,722
Uganda
3

9,763,030
Norway
72

9,757,884
Finland
75

9,706,038
Ireland
77

9,681,400
El Salvador
64

9,620,698
Honduras
43

9,589,064
Singapore
87

9,543,800
Jordan
38

8,265,793
Serbia
47

8,261,691
New Zealand
75

8,195,277
Nicaragua
43

7,785,141
Costa Rica
68

7,756,348
Ghana
7

7,755,231
Belarus
34

7,708,200
Turkmenistan
52

7,580,976
Zimbabwe
21

7,284,223
Ivory Coast
8

7,113,233
Uruguay
77

6,973,365
Kuwait
74

6,942,690
Paraguay
41

6,833,614
Tajikistan
28

6,287,345
Slovakia
45

6,136,055
Oman
55

6,046,310
Panama
56

5,895,748
Laos
42

5,830,021
Mongolia
65

5,348,124
Sudan
3

5,251,235
Qatar
76

5,224,040
Croatia
52

4,731,823
Afghanistan
9

4,674,518
Lebanon
27

4,410,472
Lithuania
68

4,148,272
Bulgaria
28

3,711,638
Palestinian Territories
28

3,315,774
Bahrain
67

3,242,189
Guinea
7

2,956,557
Slovenia
57

2,912,569
Libya
12

2,679,874
Latvia
68

2,558,182
Georgia
29

2,520,230
Tanzania
2

2,431,769
Togo
12

2,413,619
Mauritania
19

2,323,782
Albania
36

2,316,606
Senegal
5

2,295,914
Kyrgyzstan
15

2,265,426
Botswana
43

2,197,946
Mauritius
72

2,038,381
Malawi
4

1,808,971
Moldova
24

1,779,632
Benin
11

1,773,592
Syria
4

1,753,522
North Macedonia
39

1,741,245
Zambia
6

1,730,165
Niger
4

1,716,942
Kosovo
44

1,674,509
Armenia
23

1,626,738
Bosnia and Herzegovina
22

1,553,874
Cyprus
68

1,541,159
Estonia
62

1,519,161
Somalia
5

1,504,914
Trinidad and Tobago
48

1,409,304
Congo
10

1,295,601
Fiji
67

1,267,045
Jamaica
19

1,208,789
Timor-Leste
40

1,195,990
Bhutan
72

1,154,843
Liberia
19

1,146,910
Mali
2

1,087,393
Luxembourg
68

1,076,765
Malta
84

1,075,996
Burkina Faso
3

1,053,330
Cameroon
2

1,020,007
Macau
70

977,270
Sierra Leone
5

923,880
Central African Republic
7

795,630
Brunei
87

790,506
Maldives
68

790,154
Yemen
1

786,027
Namibia
13

745,158
Madagascar
2

742,069
Guyana
37

718,219
Iceland
83

716,926
Lesotho
30

688,097
Montenegro
43

635,683
Comoros
28

581,547
Cape Verde
46

571,130
Gabon
8

566,021
Papua New Guinea
2

504,018
Suriname
39

490,259
Equatorial Guinea
14

452,666
Belize
49

424,634
Guinea-Bissau
1

413,938
Eswatini
26

404,374
Chad
0.4769

366,585
DR Congo
0.1276

333,589
Bahamas
37

300,214
Barbados
50

299,765
Gambia
9

280,797
South Sudan
2

268,640
Samoa
61

263,189
Solomon Islands
8

235,918
Jersey
76

206,976
Djibouti
9

200,309
Haiti
0.6375

197,175
Seychelles
79

183,472
Isle of Man
77

177,816
Vanuatu
16

152,711
Sao Tome and Principe
23

137,612
Cayman Islands
86

130,608
Tonga
53

130,236
Antigua & Barbuda
60

121,146
Andorra
65

115,709
Bermuda
74

112,695
Gibraltar
119

108,323
Guernsey
21

106,109
Saint Lucia
27

105,192
Faroe Islands
83

96,959
Kiribati
19

82,167
Greenland
67

78,500
Grenada
31

78,476
Liechtenstein
67

62,998
St Vincent and the Grenadines
24

61,198
Dominica
38

57,044
Turks and Caicos Islands
69

56,343
Saint Kitts and Nevis
48

54,868
San Marino
64

53,942
Monaco
59

49,980
British Virgin Islands
56

35,799
Cook Islands
71

25,339
Anguilla
61

20,284
Nauru
67

14,863
Tuvalu
49

12,114
Burundi
0.0288

9,007
Saint Helena
58

7,892
Falkland Islands
50

4,407
Montserrat
30

3,020
Niue
71

2,352
Tokelau
71

1,936
Pitcairn
100

94
British Indian Ocean Territory
0

0
Eritrea
0

0
North Korea
0

0
South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands
0

0
Vatican
0

0

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The global economy is under threat

He believes that a more equitable distribution of vaccines is both humanitarianally and financially beneficial.

He stated that he felt it was his responsibility to make investments in socially responsible companies.

Krens said that any continuation of the current pandemic, which is affecting the funds that are managed by the group for the benefit of pension funds and other clients, will be “a threat” to both the economy as well as their investment returns.

According to International Monetary Fund estimates, $5.3 trillion could be lost by the world’s economy due to the large gap in vaccine rates between developed and developing countries over five years.

The group of investors have voiced their concerns in a letter to the boards of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

They highlight the World Health Organisation’s roadmap, which requires that 70% of all countries be vaccinated before the middle of next year.

Under pressure for manufacturers

This roadmap urges vaccine producers to make production more transparent and prioritize contracts with Avat and Covax that aim to increase the availability of vaccines to poorer nations.

Vaccine makers claimed that they have done all they could to spread the doses evenly.

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AstraZeneca worked closely with Oxford University in the development of their vaccine. The company said that they are “producing COVID-19 for no profit to low-income countries” and have distributed most supply to low and mid income countries.

Johnson & Johnson said that approximately 60% its COVID-19 vaccines have been shipped to low and middle income countries and that fair access to them has been “at the forefront” of its response to the pandemic. Johnson & Johnson stated that their executive pay strategy was designed to create long-lasting, sustainable value.

Moderna, Pfizer and others have not responded to inquiries for comment. Last year however, Albert Bourla, chief executive of Pfizer wrote in an open letter that the greatest obstacle to expanding manufacturing was “scarcity highly-specialized raw materials.”

Sharing of vaccine knowledge

The international political effort to increase vaccine production and distribution by removing intellectual property rights has stalled. The abrupt cancellation of the late November Ministerial Conference at the World Trade Organisation ended all hopes for an agreement.

Rogier Krens of Achmea believes such sharing can help improve vaccine distribution.

He said that although they had largely refused to cooperate so far, he stated: “We are actually asking actively for the pharmaceutical firms to contribute in this area.”

To make sure that more people are protected against coronavirus, he argued for an increase in vaccine supplies.

Krens stated that investors could bring change to the pharmaceutical industry, even though it may not happen immediately.

Source: BBC.com

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