Need, Not Wealth, Must Guide Fair Access to COVID-19 Vaccine

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Dec. 18, 2020) – The roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in high-income countries is threatening to disrupt fair access to vaccines for all, Save the Children warned in a statement today. Even as some of the first waves of vaccines are now being reserved for all countries, governments of wealthier countries should not hoard the limited initial supply of available vaccines, Instead they must ensure a distribution based on needs and not on wealth, the organization said.

Kathryn Bolles, Global Director for Health and Nutrition at Save the Children said:

“Countries who can afford life-saving vaccines should not have access over countries who cannot – one life is not worth more than another. COVID-19 continues to infect hundreds of thousands of people every day, claiming more than 1.6 million lives so far across the globe.[1]

“That means children are losing their parents, family members, teachers, and health care workers, which is deeply impacting their lives and their communities. The economies they live in are hard hit, pushing them into poverty. It’s unfair that some poorer countries must wait months or possibly longer for the vaccine.

“When this outbreak started, there were global commitments that people in lower and middle income countries should have equal access to any vaccine, but it seems that notion has shifted. Wealthier governments should not choose nationalism but instead uphold the spirit of equitable global access, including by supporting COVAX to urgently provide support to ensure people around the world are vaccinated. As thousands of people continue to die every day from COVID-19, and hundreds of thousands more are infected, time is of the essence.

“Governments must commit to expanding the supply, access and availability of vaccines, and all involved need to support the sharing of COVID-19 data and technology by committing to C-TAP, the COVID-19 technology access pool. Investment and collaboration with vaccine manufacturers in developing countries should also be prioritized to unleash supply to local and regional populations.

“We understand it will be difficult to ensure equal access of the initial supply of vaccines, but governments must do what they can to make sure it’s as fair as possible and not further accelerate the huge global inequities we face today. This pandemic has stressed that our own protection is rooted in the protection of others – no one safe until everyone is safe.” 

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