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Vantage | What wastage of Covid vaccines says about European hypocrisy

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Vantage | What wastage of Covid vaccines says about European hypocrisy

It is the unholy alliance of big pharma and rich nations which looks like a set of greedy monsters

The Vantage Take December 20, 2023 13:56:45 IST Vantage | What wastage of Covid vaccines says about European hypocrisy

Since the first Covid-19 vaccines were approved in late 2020, European Union countries have collectively taken delivery of 1.5 billion doses (more than three for every person in Europe). Reuters.

A new report has come out which looks at the European Union (EU) and their purchase and waste of Wuhan Virus vaccines. The EU has destroyed vaccines worth over 4.3 billion dollars. That’s almost 215 million doses in the dustbin. This has been going on for years.

It started at the peak of the Covid pandemic, when the world really needed vaccines, rich countries in Europe began hoarding, only to throw them away, what’s worse? The Report says these figures are an undercount, because many EU nations, like France, Hungary and Poland, haven’t even released official figures.

It’s a stark reminder of inequality in our world, where the rich take more than their fair share of life-saving vaccines, and when they are done, they line their landfills with them. Let’s play the devil’s advocate for a bit.

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Say, when the pandemic was raging, European countries only wanted to protect their citizens, and perhaps they should be forgiven for their actions. It is brutal but maybe you could look past that. What’s unforgivable is that this has continued. Even up till this year. As recently as this month — December 2023.

While the world is putting the Wuhan Virus behind it. Europe is still burying excess vaccines. It also makes you wonder — who are the people taking these decisions? What is their strategy? Is there no better way to offload excess vaccines even in 2023? There has to be some way for Europe to send vaccines to poorer nations.

The EU reportedly bought 1.5 billion doses of the Wuhan Virus vaccine. This is since the pandemic began. And it’s more than 3 doses per citizen. But it wasn’t distributed evenly. Some countries took far more than necessary, and then ended up discarding millions.

Among the worst of the lot is Germany which has wasted 83 million vaccine doses. That’s almost one wasted dose per German citizen. But the EU’s worst offender would be Estonia, that discarded about 1.5 million vaccine doses — that’s about 1.1 doses destroyed per Estonian citizen.

They could’ve been donated, and apparently they did try, but only the ones that were about to expire. However, it wouldn’t have helped the recipient countries. The remaining shelf life was so short that it wouldn’t have reached people in time. So the donations would’ve been just for show.

Also then, there were legal issues; the EU faced problems while trying to donate vaccines. Apparently some vaccine manufacturers had inserted a clause that one cannot donate without the manufacturer’s consent.

So it’s the unholy alliance of big pharma and rich nations which looks like a set of greedy monsters. Looking to profiteer from human suffering and the other is so entitled, it couldn’t care less for the rest of the world. The entire episode highlights European hypocrisy. They are happy to lecture and preach to other nations. But during a real humanitarian crisis, they will always put themselves first.

Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost’s views.

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