A vaccination race between nations can have no winners

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

  • The COVAX Facility is a global collaboration to ensure fair allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to all countries, including the poorest countries.
  • However, “vaccine nationalism” threatens to undermine equitable distribution.
  • UNICEF calls on wealthier nations to donate surplus vaccine supply to COVAX, and on vaccine manufacturers to make trial data and vaccine doses available quickly, fairly and affordably.

In 2020, one of the world’s most pressing challenges was to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. There is no doubt that the astonishing human ingenuity which led to the successful development of effective and safe vaccines in record time provides a light at the end of the tunnel.

But that light needs to shine for everyone. This year, we face an even more complex problem: getting those vaccines into the arms of people in every part of the world, both rich and poor.

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is an unprecedented global vaccination drive in history, covering countries at all income levels across the world.

Vaccine developers are estimating that they can make sufficient doses for more than one- third of the world’s population by the end of 2021. Thus, the biggest logistical challenge the world has ever seen – of shipping, storing, freezing, communicating and vaccinating – is just beginning.

To achieve it, we need all hands on deck, including bold and innovative action from multinational organizations, governments and industries. We must also focus on building trust and confidence – in institutions, in health services and in the vaccines themselves.

UNICEF understands this, because we are already the largest single vaccine buyer in the world. Every year, we procure more than 2 billion doses of vaccines on behalf of nearly 100 countries. These are for regular childhood immunizations — for measles, polio and many other diseases.

Now, we’ve been called upon to use this longstanding expertise to lead the procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility. This is a global cooperation mechanism for pooling risk, and buying power, to ensure a fair allocation of vaccines to all countries, regardless of how rich or poor their populations may be.

The COVAX Facility and the United Nations are committed to making sure that vaccines are treated as global public goods, and making vaccine doses available for at least 20% of countries’ populations. The aim is to procure a diverse and actively managed portfolio of vaccines that can be delivered as soon as they are available, to hasten the end of the acute phase of the pandemic.

We recently signed a charter along with the World Economic Forum and 18 shipping, airline and logistics companies to support the inclusive and safe distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. We are grateful to the industry for stepping up – we need their support not just now but also for future pandemics and other humanitarian emergencies. This is a great example of public-private cooperation in action.

Thanks to support like this, COVAX has made a good start. Now, 186 countries are part of the facility – including the richest nations, who have been prudent enough to recognise that in the context of a global viral pandemic, fairer is also wiser. They see that it is only through the equitable distribution of vaccines that the world can slow the pandemic and allow the safe reopening and rebuilding of their societies and economies.

Ensuring fair access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines for every country isn’t just the morally right thing to do – it is in the enlightened self-interest of every person alive today.

As the number of vaccines available is likely to be limited at first, they must be prioritized for use among frontline health workers and high-risk populations to ensure that deaths are prevented and that frontline health workers can continue to function and help children and communities get back to normal. Once the initial target groups are covered, vaccine use must be made available for other essential workers, then other groups.

This pandemic will never be defeated alone. It’s only over when it’s over for us all.

Yet, as I write, the risk of “vaccine nationalism” remains very real indeed.

While governments have an understandable need and desire to protect their own vulnerable populations and healthcare systems, if they do so by pursuing bilateral “side deals” with vaccine manufacturers, they risk undermining the COVAX Facility. We’ve seen some richer countries purchase far more doses than they will need for their own populations, and this affects pricing, creates chaos in the market and damages the coordinated approach to which they have committed.

Initially, “over-contracting” was justified because countries were investing much-needed capital into promising research and development. At the same time, countries who could afford to do so were hedging their bets while multiple vaccine developers ran clinical trials.

But now as several vaccines are nearing regulatory approval, these richer nations are likely to have a surplus of supply. We urge wealthier nations who have bilaterally purchased high volumes to consider donating them through COVAX. UNICEF stands ready to channel vaccine donations of quality-assured vaccines to COVAX-participating countries. It is the fairest way to allocate doses.

Meanwhile, vaccine manufacturers must also play their part. We are relying on them to prioritise COVAX by making trial data and vaccine doses available quickly, fairly and affordably. We can only succeed by working hand in hand. A failure of global humanity, of cooperation between nations, and between the public and private sectors could cause this vital mechanism to fail. We simply cannot allow that to happen; to do so will delay the end of this deadly pandemic, costing millions more livelihoods and lives. It is as simple and as stark as that.

While COVAX is a priority, vaccines alone will not end the pandemic. We need equitable and easy access to testing kits and treatments. We need continued communications and investment that support other practical prevention measures, such as physical distancing, mask wearing and handwashing.

Additionally, there can be no effective trade-off between routine vaccination, essential health services and COVID-19 vaccination; all are essential to a sustainable recovery. Tackling one global health crisis cannot come at the expense of creating another. coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications – a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

We need a truly coordinated and collective commitment to end the pandemic. We must secure the necessary resources to deliver on our collective goals.

The time is now. Let’s meet this moment together and ensure that the light at the end of the tunnel truly shines for every country, every community, every family – no matter who they are or where they are in the world.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Everybody against Germany over the expensive euro

EU-U.S. Trade Talks: European Commission presents draft negotiating mandates

How do we go about improving mental health in the community and reducing suicide rates in the 15-29 age group?

African economies sustain progress in domestic resource mobilisation

UN updates guidelines to ensure successful return to civilian life for former combatants

The new North America trade deal USMCA punishes German cars

Lebanon: UN rights office calls for de-escalation of protest violence

Guterres welcomes conduct of Afghan elections, commends ‘all who braved security concerns to uphold their right to vote’

This is why we should test everyone for COVID-19

Hope for ‘long-elusive progress’ in negotiating peace in eastern Ukraine

Eurozone: There is a remedy for regional convergence

Refugee crisis update: EU lacks solidarity as migration figures drop

Criminals thrive on data abundance – here’s how we’ll catch them

4 crazy things that are happening in the Arctic right now

Counting unemployment in the EU: The real rate comes to anything between 16.1% and 20.6%

Mental Health Policy, a significant driver for growth

MEPs strengthen EU financial watchdogs

Time to be welcome: Youth work and integration of young refugees

These LGBTQI Davos leaders shared their advice on coming out

Pharmaceuticals spend millions to push TTIP while consumer groups spend peanuts

European Youth Forum welcomes establishment of new Youth Intergroup in the European Parliament

Under fire, UN refugee agency evacuates 135 detained in Libya to Niger

Secure 5G networks: Commission endorses EU toolbox and sets out next steps

Telemedicine can be a COVID-19 game-changer. Here’s how

Fighting against the Public Health System dismantling means guaranteeing assistance to all

UN blue helmets in South Sudan use Sustainable Development Goals to help build peace

What makes America the world’s most competitive economy?

Is Germany yielding to pressures for more relaxed economic policies?

In polarized America, a new divide looms

Humans aren’t made for repetition – it’s time AI took over manufacturing

This is what you need to know about the Iran nuclear deal

Where do health literacy and health policy meet?

Why we need to start a new pro-vaccine movement

Parliament seals 2014 EU budget and the spending ceiling until 2020

Electronic or conventional cigarettes – which is safer?

The EU cuts roaming charges further while the UK weighs Brexit impact

Fashion has a huge waste problem. Here’s how it can change

Young people are key to defusing unrest and restoring public trust

Early detection of chronic kidney disease can save lives and cut costs

In post-COVID Latin America, investment in infrastructure can bring back tourism – and rebuild the economy

Renewed pressures on Berlin to adopt growth policies

Worth going ‘extra mile’ for a new Syrian constitution, UN envoy urges

How can batteries become more sustainable? This young scientist might have the answer

In Bahrain, Global Forum for Entrepreneurs and Investment examines empowerment of women, youth through innovation

Thousands returning to Nigeria’s restive Borno state ‘at risk’; UN ‘gravely concerned’

We can end TB right now. Here’s how

Why today’s leaders need to know about the power of narratives

WHO supports measles campaign targeting millions of children in northern Nigeria

Deutsche Bank chased away from US, threatened with more fines

Climate change is speeding up. Our response needs to be even faster

First-ever EU defence industry fund to finance joint development of capabilities

Tax revenues continue increasing as the tax mix shifts further towards corporate and consumption taxes

Manufacturing reimagined: from improved productivity to profitable growth

Will Turkey abandon the refugee deal and risk losing a bonanza of money?

VW diesel scandal and climate change: can increased independent car checks lead to cleaner mobility?

Humanitarian migration falls while labour and family migration rises

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Climate crisis and food risks, fresh violence threat for millions of Syrians, calls for calm in Kashmir

Boris to end up in jail if he loses the next elections?

Social enterprises can change entire industries. This is how

Here are three technology trends changing the way you travel

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s