Fair and equitable access to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines

Policy Briefing

Published 29/05/2020

This rapid policy briefing highlights the key challenges for policy makers, regulatory bodies, industry, and research institutions to ensure fair and equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
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A global research effort is underway to develop effective treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.* The world hopefully awaits a safe and effective vaccine to end the pandemic and enable a revival of social and economic activity.

People within and across countries will have different levels of access to these products. This will not be a new problem. Structural, political, and power imbalances mean lack of access to medicines and vaccines already has a devastating effect on people throughout the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic is truly global. Populations who are not usually affected by inequitable access to medicines might now view this issue in a new light. However, this pandemic has disproportionately affected those who are already disadvantaged and will continue to do so, both within and between countries. Without ethical leadership and changes to current systems, the effects will widen inequality, hitting disadvantaged populations and low-income countries hardest.

This briefing encourages policy makers, regulators, companies, funders, and research institutions to consider ways in which COVID-19 treatments and vaccines can be developed, accessed, and distributed to those who need them in fair and equitable ways.

*In this document, ‘treatment’ encompasses supportive care for COVID-19, such as oxygen, antibiotics and intensive care, as well as more targeted therapies, though the primary focus of this briefing concerns the development of and access to drugs and vaccines.

For a full list of references, please download the briefing.