There are currently more than 140 vaccines in development around the world, with several promising candidates in human clinical trials. But there is concern among experts and campaigners that initial demand for the vaccine could surpass manufacturing capacity, and that some countries could be priced out of the market.
Richer countries must make a political commitment to ensure that any Covid-19 vaccine is distributed fairly across the world, the head of the World Health Organization, WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has urged.
“Vaccine nationalism is not good, it will not help us,” said Dr Tedros. “When we say it should be a public good, it’s not sharing for the sake of sharing, it’s only because it has advantages. For the world to recover faster it has to recover together because it’s a globalised world.” Just part of the world or a few countries cannot be a “safe haven” and recover alone, he said, and they should “recover with the rest of the world”. Tedros explained that, “Sharing vaccines or sharing other tools actually helps the world recover together, and the economic recovery can be faster and the damage from Covid-19 could be less. So when those countries who have the means and funding commit to this, they’re not giving charity to others, they’re doing it for themselves. When the rest of the world recovers and opens up they also benefit.”
Tedros stressed the importance of global cooperation in combating the pandemic, as well as the need for investment in global health security.
“The world spends billions every year preparing for potential terrorist attacks but we have learnt lessons the hard way that unless we invest in pandemic preparedness and the climate crisis we leave ourselves open to enormous harm.”