No secret Covid-19 deals with big pharma

"My reason for joining the trial was simple: I wanted to contribute in my own way to find a vaccine to defeat a global pandemic."

Luigi was one of the first volunteers to take part in Oxford University's Covid-19 vaccine trials. 

But he was shocked to find out that despite public funding for the research, Oxford University has signed a secret agreement with UK pharma giant, AstraZeneca to manufacture the vaccine. And worries that big pharma monopolies could stop access to this vital vaccine. 

Co-sign Luigi's letter to Oxford University and AstraZeneca. He's demanding they publish their secret deal and ensure big pharma monopolies don't stop affordable Covid-19 vaccines for all. 

►Read Luigi's full letter

Luigi's full letter:

Dear Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer AstraZeneca and Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute, Oxford University

I joined the Covid-19 Clinical Vaccine Trial in April 2020 for the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine. I am part of group one, the first 88 volunteers to join this clinical trial, giving our time to help find a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

My reason for joining the trial was simple: I wanted to contribute in my own way to find a vaccine to defeat a global pandemic. We, the volunteers, are here because we recognise the importance of a vaccine breakthrough and for it to be made freely available for vulnerable people everywhere.

When I saw that a publicly funded and run development process was underway by the University of Oxford, I decided that I would give my time and volunteer in the clinical trials that could help millions of people who might one day benefit from the vaccine as a global public good.

But I am concerned that the University of Oxford had teamed up with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to manufacture and deliver the vaccine with very little transparency over what has been agreed between the two parties. As a scientist myself I know about the risks that can come with public research being put into the hands of private for-profit corporations: it can mean exclusive patents that enable higher prices and a lack of access to many around the world.

But this is a global health crisis and this publicly funded and researched vaccine must belong to the public. I feel strongly that pharmaceutical monopolies over this vaccine should not get in the way of free global access.

Though both parties have indicated that there will be no profiteering from this vaccine, the licensing agreement between the university and AstraZeneca has not been made public. AstraZeneca has said they will produce the vaccine with no profit during the pandemic but this will be defined by the company and cannot be independently verified.

This lack of transparency also leaves the door open for the company to profit from this publicly funded vaccine after the World Health Organization declares the pandemic is over but the need for a vaccine may still exist. There are also no assurances to me or other volunteers that the know-how and data from the clinical trials will be openly shared to enable any country around the world to manufacture the vaccine themselves.

I write this letter as a clinical trial volunteer for the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine to urge both parties:

1) To make the licence agreement between AstraZeneca and the Jenner Institute/University of Oxford public. As a publicly funded vaccine there should be full transparency of the licensing agreement as the terms and conditions determine access, availability and affordability of the final vaccine.

2) To commit to sharing the vaccine technology, data and know-how with the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) so that the world is given the best chance to rapidly scale-up manufacturing of successful Covid19 vaccines and enable equitable and affordable access for all countries.

3)To commit to no pharmaceutical monopolies or any other exclusivities on this vaccine both during and after the pandemic. Monopolies and exclusivities risk price gouging and restricted supplies on a vaccine that should remain a global public good – affordable to all countries and free to the public.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, Luigi Ceccaroni