Varma joins international Covid-19 vaccine petition

Finnish pension provider, Varma, has joined an appeal from international investors and pharmaceutical companies to develop a Covid-19 vaccine that will be distributed fairly.

It said the joint petition had been signed by 65 investors, such as insurers, asset managers, banks and pension companies, with a total investment asset of €5,000bn.

Varma stated that the signees had invested their assets in several different pharmaceutical companies and opened discussions about the potential pricing, availability and cooperation of some of the more than 200 candidate vaccines and drugs being tested around the world during the spring.

Varma director for responsible investment, Hanna Kaskela, said “Varma wants to be at the forefront alongside major investors in engaging with pharmaceutical companies, as the pharma industry is in a position to resolve fundamental global problems.

“When a viable coronavirus vaccine is developed, it is essential that it is also made available to lower-income, developing countries. This requires ensuring fair allocation and reasonable pricing.”

Varma portfolio manager, Kaisa Onjainmaa, said pharmaceutical companies were interesting “from the point of view of responsible investment”, adding that the pandemic was “likely to increase investments in medical technology and hospital equipment as obsolete and insufficient capacity is updated”.

Kaskela also noted that the pandemic had increased the demand for telemedicine and digital services, as well as the utilisation of technology and artificial intelligence in diagnostics and drug development.

Varma intends to continue monitoring how the coronavirus pandemic changes the healthcare sector, having already observed that the pandemic exposed “the lack of pandemic preparedness in health care everywhere in the world, as well as the disproportion that exists between health-care financing, expectations and reality”.

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