Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for International Affairs, Heledd Fychan MS, has called for Cymru to share its expertise, technical knowledge and medical supplies with low income countries to support global vaccine and treatment programmes.
Leading on a debate in the Senedd today (Wednesday 17 November), Ms Fychan will call on the Welsh Government to act as a globally responsible nation— a commitment that it is bound to by law under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
With rich countries hoarding more vaccines than they can ever use, Ms Fychan has called it “morally reprehensible” that stock is allowed to expire and go to waste, rather than being redistributed to low income countries.
In September, Welsh Government confirmed that 40,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine had been destroyed, while figures emerging recently show that UK-wide figures are 600,000.
Low income countries are bearing the highest burden of the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Minister for Social Justice admitting last week in the Senedd “Vaccine inequity is the biggest obstacle stopping the world emerging from this pandemic.”
These calls are echoed by Oxfam Cymru, who have also renewed calls on Welsh Government to pressure Westminster to lift their block on pharmaceutical companies sharing vaccine recipes and technology with the rest of the world.
Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for International Affairs, Heledd Fychan MS said, “A global pandemic requires a global response. Wales has its part to play in bringing an end to the pandemic and protecting communities all around the world. What’s more, our global responsibility is written into law.
“It’s been said many times that the virus doesn’t discriminate but the same cannot be said for access to the vaccines. Vaccines are distributed based on wealth and nationality, rather than need – not only is this this divide unjust, it’s morally reprehensible.
“That’s why Wales should be leading the way in sharing our expertise and sharing long term support to low income countries to bring the pandemic under control at a global level.
“At the start of the pandemic the greatest barrier to overcoming it was science, but now it is inequality. Wales has a responsibility to play its part in bringing an end to the pandemic. After all, we’re not free from this virus until everyone is free.”
Sarah Rees, Head of Oxfam Cymru, said: “While more and more people across Wales are being invited to come forward and receive their Covid booster jabs, the reality for people in developing countries – where two percent of people are fully vaccinated – couldn’t be more different. It’s unconscionable that the UK Government is still blocking efforts to suspend the patents on Covid technologies and insist pharmaceutical companies share the lifesaving vaccine recipes and technology with the rest of the world so vaccine production can be urgently ramped up.
“The First Minister and Senedd must send a united, unequivocal message to the Prime Minister; that they will not stand idly by while lives are being needlessly endangered around the world, and, as a result, here in Wales. No one is safe from Covid until we all are.”