Provide equal access to COVID-19 vaccines is need of the hour, Health News, ET HealthWorld

By Dr. V. Sam Prasad

With the firestorm that is COVID-19 raging throughout India and other countries, the world is in dire need of an urgent and innovative call-to-action to have a real chance at defeating the pandemic. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is spearheading Vaccinae Our World (VOW) a global initiative regardless of economic status, urge to provide equal access to COVID-19 vaccines by calling on all governments, vaccine manufacturers, and international public health institutions to protect humanity.

This ambitious but achievable call-to-action includes five primary tenets:

  • The global COVID-19 vaccination effort must secure $100 billion from G20 countries,
  • It must produce and provide seven billion vaccine doses worldwide within one year,
  • Companies and governments must waive or suspend all COVID-19 vaccine patents during the
  • pandemic,
  • Countries must also be 100% transparent in sharing information and data, and finally,
  • World leaders must promote far greater international cooperation as the driving force for
  • ending the pandemic, not continue with politics as usual.

The campaign kickstarted in India for vaccine equity and access efforts by supplying more than 66.4 million vaccines to 95 plus countries mostly as grant in aid, gifts and through COVAX facility – to countries in South Asia, Africa, South America, Caribbean, and the Pacific.Wealthy nations promised at the onset of the pandemic to ensure ample vaccines for the entire world, but as evidenced by the hoarding of enough vaccines to inoculate their populations as many as five times over, it’s clear we need another solution. It is unacceptable that many countries will be waiting until 2023 to get vaccines. The world must join to end this pandemic by taking all necessary steps to vaccinate each one of them.

Of the more than 1.34 billion vaccines that have been administered worldwide, 83% have gone to wealthy nations. Low-income countries have received a mere 0.2%, and that puts the global community at risk of contracting the emerging mutant variants of COVID-19.

In addition to securing enough funding for vaccine procurement, vaccine production must be increased worldwide, and access to patents should be free-flowing to allow for the rapid scale-up of production.

Ending the pandemic will also require much more information sharing and cooperation between nations—including removing self-imposed restrictions on vaccine exports for those countries with a surplus. Leaders from the G20 and global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank must also vow to step up their contributions immediately. At this point, every single COVID-19 death is avoidable – we must do more as an interconnected global society.

Provide equal access to COVID-19 vaccines is need of the hour
India joined South Africa in advocating the WTO for Intellectual Property (IP) and patent waivers so that the Global South could benefit and thereby make vaccines available for their citizens.

Countries, particularly those in the European Union (EU) , must support waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines so that production capacity can be bolstered worldwide. We must learn from our battle against HIV that we cannot wait for years to get lifesaving vaccines and medicines to people who need them most. It’s time that heads of government, global public health organizations, and pharmaceutical companies do all that is necessary.

Provide equal access to COVID-19 vaccines is need of the hour
Dr. V. Sam Prasad MBBS, MPP, Country Program Director, AHF INDIA CARES

(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it. shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly).

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