Rich countries fail to agree on how to report surplus Covid-19 vaccine donations as aid
The OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) is facing an impasse among its membership on the adoption of controversial new rules that would allow rich countries to report the donation of surplus Covid-19 vaccines as aid. This is a vindication of the struggle civil society organisations have been engaging in for months opposing these new rules.
Following at least half a year of negotiations, the DAC seemed to agree on a price per vaccine of US$6.72 per dose. But they have failed to come to a consensus on the details, which were due to be approved today (December 21), following a “written procedure” - i.e if no objection is received the proposal is considered approved. Objections have been received, but so far, the DAC has not revealed any further information.
In response to this news Nerea Craviotto, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), said:
“Rich countries have been sitting on a surplus of vaccines that they now want to donate. The problem with this otherwise laudable idea is that they want to report the “donations’’ in their official aid statistics - effectively charging poorer nations for vaccines they would otherwise have likely thrown away. According to rough estimates within the next two years this could inflate ODA figures by up to US$ 10.8 billion - hardly a minor amount.
“This impasse amongst members is an opportunity to take this idea off the table. These vaccines were never purchased for development purposes and both Eurodad and our partners have been saying for months that they should not not be counted as such.
“If DAC members are determined to continue with the process, then alterations must be made to the current proposal to make it more likely that donations will reach the most needy people.
“Firstly, so far the DAC has failed to put in place strong ODA-eligibility criteria for vaccine dose donations. This should address not only the quality of vaccines, but also the predictability of those donations in terms of when, how many and which vaccines might be arriving. This would allow proper planning of any vaccination campaign and to understand whether vaccines donated are reaching the final beneficiaries in developing countries. We ask ourselves why this has not been done.
“Secondly, we have not seen any mechanism to ensure that DAC members do not report more than the original cost of the vaccine doses they are donating as ODA (that would be the case for example with the surplus donation of Astrazeneca doses which cost less than the $6.72 price tag).
“As the omicron variant surges across the world, we urge the DAC to return to the table in the new year and at the very least put in place far stronger safeguards than they currently have. It is not only in the interest of the poorest but in the interest of the whole world for as many vaccines to be distributed as possible. The spectacle of rich countries trying to benefit from their redistribution is not our understanding of aid.”
Julia Ravenscroft, Communications Manager, Eurodad
jravenscroft[at]eurodad[dot]org/ +44 7958 184 695