Policy Brief | Achieving Global Vaccine Equity

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The approval and rollout of vaccines to protect against COVID-19 has provided the world with some relief and hope after more than a year of disruption and grief. Globally, the disease has marked over 138 million cases and killed nearly 3 million. Our global health and economic security lie in the balance. Reaching herd immunity against COVID-19 through vaccination is the only ethical and life-saving approach to ending the pandemic, requiring an estimated 11 billion doses to vaccinate 70% of the world's population (assuming two doses are given per person).

Yet inequalities in access to vaccines is staggering: 87% of the world’s Covid vaccine supply has been administered to high income and upper-middle income countries, while 130 countries, accounting for roughly 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose. As of April 9, low-income countries had received just 0.3 percent of the 900 million vaccine doses administered worldwide, and deals made by wealthy nations to secure vaccines for their own populations have driven up prices and potentially delayed COVAX deliveries. At the current rate of vaccination, it is estimated to take 4.6 years to reach herd immunity globally.

The US government can and must lead the charge for the equitable and efficient distribution of vaccines throughout the world. We make the following recommendations for how it can do so:

  1. Share vaccine doses and materials with Low-Income Countries (LICs)
  2. Provide additional funding and support to the ACT-Accelerator to:
    1. Ensure that the $4 billion contribution to COVAX for vaccine procurement and distribution gets vaccines into the arms of the people who need it.
    2. Ensure the ethical and responsible allocation of vaccinations, to optimize vaccine effectiveness in places where COVID-19 variants exist.
    3. Coordinate pandemic response funding and decision making.
    4. Lead efforts and invest in learning and identifying best practices for such global systems to prepare for future pandemics or health crises, and its vaccination processes.
  3. Address intellectual property concerns in order to maximize vaccine distribution.
  4. Leverage diplomatic, economic, assistance and other means to ensure inclusion of the most vulnerable, including refugees, IDPs and the stateless into vaccine schemes.
  5. Utilize faith groups and faith leaders to disseminate positive messaging for vaccine acceptance and to counter mis- and dis-information.
  6. Continue to strengthen health systems while distributing vaccines.

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