If poor countries don't vaccinate, Australia will feel the effects: Oxfam Australia chief executive Lyn Morgain

Oxfam calculates that the cost to Australia of poor countries not vaccinating against COVID-19 works out at $1348 a year for each Australian.

It's calculated the amount of economic damage to poor countries of a continuing pandemic even as Australians become immune from the worst effects of the illness.

And that cost to poor, COVID-ravaged countries will hit Australian trade, the campaigning organisation says.

It wants pharmaceutical companies and companies making anti-COVID medical equipment to allow poor countries to manufacture their products with no payment or reduced payment.

It also supports a move by South Africa and India to get world trade rules changed to allow poorer countries to vaccinate more people at less cost.

Vaccines for all? Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Vaccines for all? Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Pharmaceutical companies argue that their products are the result of the investment of large amounts of money, and to give away the right to manufacture the product wouldn't be fair.

Their governments support the argument, though President Biden has indicated he is open to reviewing the policy.

But Oxfam argues that poor people will suffer - and their suffering will hurt people in Australia and other richer countries.

"Rich countries are defending the interests of the pharmaceutical sector over their citizens, other businesses, and their economies as a whole," according to Lyn Morgain, the chief executive of Oxfam Australia.

"It is a bizarre act of financial and economic self-harm.

"They are condemning everyone to suffer the consequences."

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Oxfam has crunched the economic numbers and calculated that the continuing epidemic in poorer countries would be a drag on the world economy.

"Rich countries must open the way to cheaper mass-produced COVID-19 vaccines to protect every person in the world and avert a $9 trillion 'worst case' global economic catastrophe," Oxfam said.

There is already an official global effort to ensure that poorer countries get vaccines and equipment.

COVAX which includes Australia was formed by the World Health Organization, the European Commission and France in response to this pandemic.

But Oxfam and other groups say that the effort doesn't go far or fast enough to ensure global protection against the virus.

"This is a stark reminder that vaccine inequality has a real economic impact on us all," Oxfam's chief executive said.

Oxfam has calculated the cost to poorer countries of "vaccine inequity".

For example, India could lose as much $786 billion. South Africa could see 24 percent wiped off its GDP. The Philippines could lose 18 percent of its GDP.

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This story If poor countries don't vaccinate, Australia will feel the effects: Oxfam first appeared on The Canberra Times.