Tying pharmacy CEO to equitable access to global COVID-19 vaccine, investors say

AMSTERDAM, Jan.6 (Reuters) – A group of institutional investors with $ 3.5 trillion in assets under management on Thursday called on pharmaceutical companies to tie executive compensation to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the whole world.

While the majority of citizens in rich countries are vaccinated and many now receive booster injections, on the African continent vaccination rates are on average only 10%.

The World Health Organization has set a target of a vaccination rate of 70% in all countries by July 2022 in order to end the “acute phase” of the pandemic. Read more

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The 65 participating asset managers, pension funds and insurance companies signed a letter viewed by Reuters dated January 4 which was sent to the boards of directors of Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ.N), Moderna Inc (MRNA. O) and AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L). The letter calls on them to adopt a WHO roadmap for achieving equitable access to vaccines and to link it to executive compensation “in a meaningful, material, measurable and transparent way.”

Vaccine shipments around the world have been delayed by production problems, hoarding by governments of rich countries, export restrictions and bureaucracy.

The investor group said the key points include better participation in international immunization programs and the licensing and sharing of technology so that countries can produce vaccines locally.

“It should make sense for a vaccine maker to aim to immunize the whole world,” said Frank Wagemans of Achmea Investment Management, one of the funders of the initiative with $ 225 billion in assets under management. .

Other participating investors are Nomura, Investec, Boston Common Asset Management, Candriam, GAM, Aegon and PGGM.

Pfizer and Moderna could not be reached immediately for comment. They have previously said they are committed to making doses available to the poorest countries at relatively low prices.

Johnson & Johnson said in response that 60% of its vaccines had been shipped to low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2021, and the company is in talks on a licensing deal with Aspen Pharmacare to produce a vaccine in Africa. from South.

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca said the company has distributed most of its supply to low- and middle-income countries with no profit in those countries.

Peter Singer, special adviser to the WHO secretary-general, said the investor initiative was “extremely welcome”.

The current uneven distribution of vaccines represents “not only a total moral failure for the world, but also a very important economic failure and a major drag on the world economy,” he said.

Achmea’s Wagemans said he believes vaccine makers will generally be responsive to demand, but the fund manager will look at how companies are implementing their pledges ahead of their annual meetings.

“I can’t speak for the other signatories of how they will vote, but for the management of Achmea, yes, we will vote against (the executive compensation packages) if there is no connection” with the WHO roadmap, he said.

($ 1 = € 0.8843)

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Reporting by Toby Sterling; edited by Richard Pullin and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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