Vaccine equity and Accessibility

Below, you can find an overview of current efforts promoting COVID-19 vaccine equity and accessibility.

Why Is Equitable Vaccine Distribution A Concern?

Historically—and during the COVID-19 crisis—low and middle income countries (LICs, MICs) have been outbid by high income countries (HICs) in the competition for scarce medical resources, and unable to access sufficient PPE, treatments, and vaccines. Unequal access to medical resources exacerbate the disproportionate toll that COVID-19 is already taking on disadvantaged populations.

Globally, the disease is undoing decades of progress in global poverty alleviation. And within countries, racial and ethnic minorities are suffering the most. For instance, Black and Latinx Americans are three times as likely to develop COVID-19 as white Americans, as well as nearly twice as likely to die from it.

A universally accessible COVID-19 vaccine is necessary for the well-being of billions of people who are suffering during this pandemic.

Key Terms & Actors

Advance Market Commitment (AMC):

A financing mechanism that guarantees manufacturers a future market for a product. Governments, non-profits, and intergovernmental organizations often use AMCs to incentivize the production of vaccines, since the high upfront cost of vaccine development and manufacture would not be financially worthwhile without a guaranteed market. The launch of a pilot AMC for pneumococcal vaccines in 2009 marked the first use of an AMC for vaccines in practice.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance:

A public-private global health partnership  aiming to improve childhood immunization coverage and enhance access to new vaccines in low-income countries. Founded in 2000 and based in Geneva, Switzerland, Gavi leverages technical expertise from various global development partners and aggregates vaccine demand from the low-income countries it supports. Gavi’s founding partners include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank Group.

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI):

A global partnership launched at Davos in 2017 with the mission of accelerating the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enabling equitable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks. CEPI was founded after the 2014 Ebola outbreak and focused on priority diseases including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Lassa fever, and Nipah prior to the emergence of COVID-19.

World Health Organization (WHO):

A special agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. In conjunction with Gavi, CEPI, and other stakeholders, the WHO launched the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a collaboration with the goal of accelerating the development, production, and equitable deployment of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility:

A joint project by Gavi, CEPI, and the WHO within the vaccine pillar of the ACT Accelerator. The COVAX Facility aims to be ready to produce 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021 by pooling financial resources from high-income nations and using AMCs to secure a large portfolio of future vaccine doses. These vaccines will be distributed among all participating nations, including Gavi-supported low-income countries.

Research Report

COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Research Report

  • Research in pursuit of a COVID-19 vaccine is progressing rapidly, with expectations that the first doses will be available in 2020 or 2021.

  • The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Global Development (CGD), and others are working to ensure that a vaccine is produced in record time and made available globally.

  • Ensuring global, equitable access to a vaccine will require concerted effort before a vaccine has been developed to ensure sufficient supply, fair costs, and global inclusivity.

Other Resources

  • The Lancet series on US health and health care, which highlights how widening gaps of income inequality are driving increases in health inequity
  • Our research memo on equitable and accessible COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing and distribution

1Day volunteers’ thoughts on vaccine equity