7000 people and hundreds of organizations have already signed on to a vaccine equity declaration


Some developed countries have got infected with Vaccine nationalism
7000 people and hundreds of
organizations have already signed
on to a vaccine equity declaration
Rich countries placing orders with vaccine
manufacturers has affected COVAX
programme of free supply to poor countries

At the halfway point in the World Health Organization and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ 100-day challenge, a movement of people and organizations is now uniting together under the banner of vaccine equity. WHO has welcomed the new commitments made by France, Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the United States of America to COVAX and equitable allocation of vaccines? Backed by 190 countries and economies, COVAX it is believed is the global mechanism best positioned to deliver vaccines to the world and end the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is a growing movement behind vaccine equity and I welcome that world leaders are stepping up to the challenge by making new commitments to effectively end this pandemic by sharing doses and increasing funds to COVAX,” said Dr Tedros, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “This can’t be business as usual and there is an urgent need for countries to share doses and technology, scale up manufacturing and ensure that there is a sustainable supply of vaccines so that everyone, everywhere can receive a vaccine.”

Close to 7000 people and hundreds of organizations have already signed on to a vaccine equity declaration that directly calls on governments and manufacturers to speed up regulatory processes, boost manufacturing by sharing know-how and technology, and ensure that doses are shared equitably. There is a specific call to start with all health and care workers, who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic for more than a year. 

Heads of state and sports stars like Romain Grosjean; international agencies including UNICEF, UN Development Programme, UN Women and the World Food Programme; sporting organizations like the International Olympic Committee, World Rugby and FIFA; networks focused on faith, gender and youth, and civil society groups like the Elders, Global Health Council, Nursing Now, Pandemic Action Network, UHC2030 and Women in Global Health,*-- these and many more have signed on to the broad based movement, which recognizes the moral, economic and global security imperative of equitable vaccine distribution.

While on one hand these people and organizations are doing their best to raise funds for COVID vaccine for the poor countries, rich countries who have placed major orders for supply of vaccine directly with the manufacturers means that the previously agreed vaccine allocation to poor countries through COVAX programme will have to be drastically reduced may be for the time being. WHO Director General has called upon the rich nations to check whether their own deals with pharmaceutical companies were undermining COVAX on which the poor countries are relying and are waiting for the supply of vaccine. According to reports Group of Seven top industrialized countries alongwith the rest of European Union and Australia have already bought 1.25 billion more doses of Covid vaccine than they needed to inoculate every member of their population. Reports are also coming that some rich countries are contacting the manufactures to secure more vaccine. Without the cooperation of the rich countries, respecting the COVAX deals, delivery of vaccine to poor countries will be seriously affected.

According to another report the world’s biggest vaccine producer from India Serum Institute has asked other countries to be “patient” about the supply of vaccine because they have been instructed to first meet the Indian needs. Home market has got to be catered first before export. In the meanwhile one also heard voices for “Vaccine Nationalism” meaning that countries producing vaccines must entertain to the needs of their own countries first or concentrate in the region before thinking of making the vaccine available to other countries. WHO DG favours Intellectual Property Rights on Covid19 medical goods should be waived as it will facilitate greater knowledge sharing and rapid scale up of production sites.

The WHO DG feels that the movement for vaccine equity is growing, and to prevent virus variants from undermining our health technologies and hampering an already sluggish global economic recovery, it is critical that leaders continue to step up to ensure that we end this pandemic as quickly as possible. Individuals and organizations everywhere are encouraged to join in this crucial effort.

Ref: WHO News Release 19 February 2021. https://www.who.int/news/item/19-02-2021-world-waking-up-to-vaccine-equity Accessed on Feb. 20, 2021

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