COVAX: A broken promise to the world
The rapid rate at which scientists produced multiple highly effective COVID-19 vaccines was an epic public health achievement. Yet as the data reflect, efforts over the past year to equitably distribute those vaccines have been a failure.
No country has been unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but one year after the first vaccine authorisations, too many countries are being denied access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines.
The COVAX Facility (COVAX) was created as a global vaccine procurement facility to deliver equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across all countries, regardless of income. Unfortunately, the mechanism has so far failed to deliver on its vision. This brief offers an analysis of COVAX and calls for radical change in making COVID-19 vaccines accessible to the world.
Moving forward, there are immediate adjustments to COVAX that should be made to improve transparency, accountability and confidence in the mechanism and help improve access to COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, there are broader systemic changes that must finally be addressed if the world is going to avoid repeating the gross injustice of hundreds of millions of people denied access to the fruits of medical innovation. Despite the rhetoric of world leaders at the launch of the ACT-A that COVID-19 vaccines would be “global public goods,” to date the COVID-19 response has perpetuated the status quo. It is time for that to change.