OECD DAC: Rich countries can include excess Covid-19 vaccines donated to poor countries in their 2022 aid budgets - and they might continue doing this in 2023…
Indications are that just a small amount of countries opposed controversial practice of repackaging vaccines originally stockpiled for rich nations as aid.
The OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) - the group of wealthy donor countries - has rubber-stamped the policy that would again allow them to count donations of excess Covid-19 vaccines in 2022 into their aid budget figures, which are due to be published in April.
Early last year, following months of wrangling, the DAC agreed on a ‘reference price’ of US$ 6.72 for each Covid-19 dose they donate to poorer countries, which could then be reported under their aid budgets. For 2022 the price has been adjusted to US$ 6.66.
Information we have received about this month’s closed-door DAC meeting indicates that the majority of members agreed with including the donations in their 2022 ODA figures, and some also wanted to continue counting excess doses in 2023.
We also understand that not everyone agreed - a small number of members opposed counting the donations for 2022, 2023 and beyond because they were never purchased with international development goals in mind.
Nerea Craviotto, Senior Policy Officer at the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) - one of numerous CSOs across the world that oppose this policy - said: “Rich countries stockpiled Covid-19 vaccines during the pandemic for their own populations, and once those vaccines were not needed anymore, wanted to repackage them as donations to poorer countries and count them as aid. Continuing with this policy, even as multiple crises drive more and more people into poverty, flies in the face of what aid is meant to be.
“A final decision on whether to continue with this policy in 2023 has been postponed for now. We urge members to do the right thing and end this practice now”
The DAC’s decision came ahead of media reports this week that during an event in London the UK’s Shadow International Development Secretary Preet Gill called it “quite scandalous” that “somehow the government can offset vaccines at a much higher rate than at what they procured them” and added that “we can't balance the books on the world's poorest.”
Earlier reports have also shown that the US and Netherlands were concerned about the practice of counting excess Covid-19 vaccines in aid budgets.
Craviotto said: “We and many other CSOs have grave concerns about several changes to the reporting rules in recent years that means ODA budgets now include many costs that are not really aid. Excess Covid-19 vaccines are just one of these.
“The DAC has a new Chair arriving in March. He must put an end to the erosion of the definition of aid and ensure that rich countries live up to their commitments to end poverty and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals without artificially inflating their aid figures. If this is not addressed, the question is whether the DAC should be allowed to be the judge and jury on aid reporting.”
Media contact: Julia Ravenscroft, Communications Manager, Eurodad: [email protected]/
+44 7958 184 695.