NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 13, 2020—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is encouraged by infectious disease expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Dr. Anthony Fauci's comments on Thursday highlighting the importance of ensuring people everywhere have access to any new COVID-19 vaccine that becomes available, not just people living in wealthy countries. The pandemic can’t be over for anyone until it’s over for everyone.
MSF has been pushing throughout the pandemic to ensure 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 like MSF and to people in countries where the international medical humanitarian organization operates. 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 equitable allocation of COVID-19 health products, said MSF.
Given the immense amount of taxpayer money that is being handed to pharmaceutical corporations without any strings attached, the US government must demand more transparency from companies so people and governments know how much supply exists of COVID-19 vaccines, medicines, and tests and are in a better position to demand access and fair prices. Additionally, governments around the world should block companies from enforcing patents on any COVID-19 products so that other manufacturers can help increase supply and make more affordable versions.
Kate Elder, senior vaccines policy advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign, said today:
“It’s encouraging to see the US’ top infectious disease expert pushing for global access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“MSF is very concerned that there will not be fair and equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines globally—from health care workers in conflict zones to vulnerable people caught in humanitarian crises and living on the fringes of society.
“Failing to vaccinate people across the globe will only prolong this pandemic.
“Global solidarity in this fight is already being undermined as wealthy countries, including the US, UK, Canada, and countries in the EU, have bought up the bulk of the first vaccine doses; thirteen percent of the world has already bought up more than 50 percent of the supply of the leading vaccine candidates. What we need right now is a people’s vaccine that is widely available to all people.
“It is critical that governments share the vaccine and work to ensure—including through WHO’s COVAX Facility vaccine financing mechanism—that people everywhere have access to COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.
“Just because someone in a high-income country can pay more for a vaccine doesn’t mean they should get vaccinated before a frontline health care worker in a low-income country. If that happens, we will not have upheld the declarations of so many world leaders who have been promising that future COVID-19 vaccines are global public goods.”