Amid all the excitement about new COVID-19 vaccines rolling out, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working to make sure that these lifesaving tools reach everyone who needs them.
We are particularly concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable and marginalized communities. That’s why we’re demanding a people’s vaccine—one that is priced affordably and distributed equitably to people everywhere on the basis of need.
We’re calling on the CEOs of pharmaceutical corporations producing COVID-19 technologies to commit to fair and equitable vaccine access for all people in all countries. One month ago, on December 14, MSF’s Access Campaign stood alongside a coalition of organizations and activists calling on companies to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines. In a joint letter, we noted that the pharmaceutical industry has a critical role to play in developing vaccines and other technologies to help control the pandemic. We also highlighted the unprecedented levels of public and charitable funding for the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Now, we’re reminding these executives that the pharmaceutical industry has a responsibility to make sure the vaccines they develop and produce are available to everyone who needs them.
We’re demanding that pharmaceutical corporations:
- ensure full transparency
- share knowledge and don’t enforce intellectual property restrictions
- help other manufacturers make more doses of new vaccines
- share vaccines with low- and middle-income countries
MSF’s Access Campaign has been pushing throughout the pandemic to make sure any COVID-19 vaccines that hit the market are distributed to people all over the world at an affordable, at-cost price, including to treatment providers and to people in countries where we work. The distribution of future COVID-19 vaccines should be based on public health criteria, already outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its framework for the equitable allocation of COVID-19 health products.
Given the immense amount of taxpayer money that is being handed to pharmaceutical corporations without any strings attached, governments must demand transparency from companies. Governments and the public need to know more about the supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, medicines, and tests in order to ensure greater access and fair prices. Governments can also block companies from enforcing patents on any COVID-19 products so that other manufacturers can help increase supply and make more affordable versions.
MSF is calling for no patents and no monopolies on COVID-19 products during this pandemic. Any patents on the medical tools needed to prevent and treat this new life-threatening disease will keep them out of reach for too many people. That means the coronavirus pandemic will take much longer to end, and more people will get sick and die.
To ensure that pharmaceutical corporations do the right thing, we must take action now.