Stockholm (NordSIP) – As countries continue to roll out COVID-19 vaccination programmes, the issue of global inequality is once again rearing its ugly head. On Tuesday, February 23rd, 150 institutional investors responsible for managing or advising assets worth more than US$14 trillion called for a fair and equitable global response to the pandemic.
The call to action is motivated by the fact that of the 128 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered so far, more than three quarters have been administered in just ten countries, representing 60% of global GDP. A further 130 countries, home to 2.5 billion people, have not yet administered a single dose. According to the call for action, if COVID-19 tools are not distributed fairly and the virus continues to spread in low- and middle-income countries, nearly twice as many people could die as have already passed away, resulting in US$9.2 trillion in global economic losses.
To address these concerns, the joint statement emphasised the need to fully finance the ACT Accelerator partnership dedicated to developing, producing and ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 tools. Under the umbrella of the Access to Medicine Foundation, the signatories also committed to engaging with healthcare companies to promote bolder industry actions and, therefore, contribute to ending the pandemic.
This is not the first time that the organisation is in the news. At the start of February ESG Analyst Rebecca Rehn at Alecta noted the work of the initiative and the Access to Medicine Index it produces. According to Rehn, two billion people lack access to medicines and as such are at risk of dying from treatable diseases. The issue is as much a humanitarian as well as an economic one, with Rehn citing a Harvard study showing that deaths due to treatable health conditions cost the global economy billions of dollars each year. According to her, Alecta and SEB Investment Management have been involved in the Access To Medicine global initiative since 2019, which publishes the Access to Medicine index every two years.
The 2021 edition of the index is composed of three elements: governance of access, R&D and product delivery. The top fixe places in the ranking were occupied by GlaxoSmithKline (UK), Novartis (Switzerland), Johnson & Johnson (USA), Pfizer (USA) and Sanofi (France). Among Nordic companies, only Novo Nordisk A/S made it to the top 10.