Equitable Access to COVID-19 Vaccines: Cooperation around Research and Production Capacity Is Critical
journal contributionposted on 27.07.2021, 06:21 by David LeggeDavid Legge, S Kim
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated families and communities and disrupted society and the economy. The prompt availability of effective and affordable vaccines offers the most promising path out of the pandemic. Global solidarity was reflected in the early publication of the genome sequence and the sharing of protocols for the PCR test. However, WHO’s proposed “solidarity vaccine trial” which would yield comparative data about vaccines and the proposal that vaccine technologies be shared to accelerate vaccine development and production were rejected by pharma. In March global cooperation around diagnostics, medicines and vaccines moved from WHO to the ‘Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator’, a new ‘multi-stakeholder public private partnership. The “vaccine arm” of the Accelerator was the Covax Facility which would mobilise donor funds to pay for vaccines for the 20% priority populations in low and lower middle income countries. By July however, it was clear that massive bilateral advanced purchase agreements by the high income countries would reserve most of the early supply of effective vaccines and jeopardise the fund-raising for Covax. The rise of ‘vaccine nationalism’ looks set to cause long delays in access to vaccination in many L&MICs, and significant morbidity and mortality as a consequence. We propose a policy platform to promote a more equitable roll out of vaccines in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic including: full funding of Covax and expansion of local production of vaccines supported by technology transfer and an immediate waiver of key provisions of the TRIPS Agreement.