CSOs across the world call on the OECD DAC to drop all plans to report the donations of excess Covid-19 vaccines as aid, as member governments fail to agree on guidelines
The OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has failed to agree on a plan on how to report the donation of excess Covid-19 vaccine doses as aid, following months of wrangling. This is a bitter-sweet victory for CSOs, as donors willing to report these excess vaccine donations will still be able to do so as in-kind donations, despite the lack of agreement.
This press release was updated on 15 February following a formal announcement by the OECD.
Following the non-agreement, the OECD DAC Chair has issued a statement accompanied by a guidance note on February 15 addressing how excess vaccine donations could be reported in 2021, encouraging DAC donors to use US$ 6.72 as a reference price for each dose donated. According to available data from Canada, the UK and the EU and its Member States, for 2021 the use of this reference price could lead to at least US$ 1.7 billion being allocated to Official Development Assistance (ODA) for donated excess vaccine doses for these countries alone.1 However, donors could also decide to report them at another price (likely higher).
CSOs across the world, including the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), have launched a joint reaction calling for all plans in this direction to be scrapped. The statement says: “these vaccine doses were never purchased in the interest of development partners and should not be counted as such”.
Nerea Craviotto, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at Eurodad said: “The plain fact is that rich countries bought vast quantities of vaccines - more than they needed - and they have been planning to count the donation of these excess vaccines to poorer countries in their aid statistics. This has always been an unconscionable idea. Furthermore, regardless of whether there is an agreement or not, donors willing to report the donation of their excess vaccine doses are still able to do so.”
At this moment, even though donors could still technically report excess vaccines as aid in their 2021 statistics - which are due out in April - it remains unclear how they would choose to proceed. The non-agreement impasse offers more than one scenario on how to report these donations. Eurodad and partners will be closely monitoring ODA figures for 2021.
Following the official announcement by the DAC Chair on February 15, Craviotto added: “Although the announcement acknowledges and attempts to address some of the points raised by CSOs around the complexity of this issue, the pricing and the quality of donated vaccines, it still ignores the fact that these vaccines were never purchased for development aid purposes and should not be reported as such. This would undermine the principles of aid. It is as simple as that.”
The joint CSO statement says: “In the midst of this global pandemic, we need a global strategy to vaccinate 70 per cent of the world’s population by mid-2022. Thus, the priority right now should be to support a multilateral approach by supporting initiatives such as COVAX - set up to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines reach the world’s poorest people. COVAX is facing a funding crisis and is struggling to accept new vaccine donations because it doesn't have the funds to buy crucial items like syringes.
“ODA has a vital role to play not only in providing Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments to citizens in developing countries, but also in supporting developing countries to shore up their health systems more generally.
"It is time for OECD DAC members to do the right thing and ensure that the credibility of ODA is not undermined any further.”
Notes to editors:
1The lack of transparency on what is being donated and how makes accurate calculations extremely difficult. The estimation has been done with data extracted from Airfinity (airfinity.com) which shows that Canada donations amounted to 12.54 million, the European Union and its Member States to 285.26 million and the UK to 24.18 million. Making a total of 321.98 million donations.