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Reform Magazine | July 15, 2024

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A cure for Covid: Tax - Reform Magazine

A cure for Covid: Tax

President Biden’s tax reforms could save lower income countries from the pandemic, says Justin Thacker

‘We are on our toes all the time,’ said a friend of mine from India who lives his daily life in fear of Covid. The news from India has disappeared from our news bulletins to some extent, but still, at the time of writing, more than 4,000 people a day are dying from the disease there. We in the UK have been through a catastrophe, but with the help of the vaccine are slowly emerging. Undoubtedly, it is that vaccine that has made the difference.

Yet this is where the problem lies. For, while the virus knows no bounds and skips across borders with no notion of national sovereignty, the same cannot be said for the global distribution of the vaccine. As I write, more than 70% of UK adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine; just 12% of Indian adults have. The 29 poorest countries in the world have received just 0.1% of global vaccine doses, despite making up 9% of the world population. Some have said we are experiencing a vaccine apartheid.

By now, you are probably wondering what tax has got to do with any of this, and why a Christian ecumenical organisation such as Church Action for Tax Justice has anything to say on the matter. The answer may surprise you.

There are, in fact, a number of different problems with distribution of the vaccine around the world. One of these is manufacture of the vaccine; another is the way that intellectual property on the vaccine is closely guarded, so that countries cannot make their own; but a third problem is the fact that poorer countries simply don’t have the money either to buy the vaccine or to distribute it within their own countries…

Justin Thacker is Director of Church Action for Tax Justice. The report, ‘A Global Tax Plan for a Global Pandemic’, is available for free at


This is an extract from an article published in the July/August 2021 edition of Reform

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