Covid-19 – no time for profiteering

 

Sir, – To date, governments and philanthropic organisations have given billions of dollars to pharmaceutical corporations for research and development for vital Covid-19 vaccines. However, in most cases, few if any conditions for access or affordability have been included as a precondition to any of this funding.

There is broad agreement that we cannot apply business-as-usual principles during this crisis, where the highest bidders get to protect their people from this disease first, while the rest of the world is left behind. Governments must now ensure any future Covid-19 vaccines are sold at cost and universally accessible to all. At the very least, there must be a transparent and objective global allocation system that prioritises access to vaccines for frontline healthcare workers and people at greatest risk of severe illness and death worldwide.

Simply put, there can be no profiteering on drugs, tests, or vaccines used in this pandemic.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is currently responding to Covid-19 in over 70 countries. We have seen how the virus can wreak devastation on some of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, in countries with social safety nets and where most people have access to running water and space to self-isolate. Its impact on countries with fragile healthcare systems, and on impoverished settings such as slums and refugee camps, is particularly concerning.

In the past, MSF has witnessed too many people suffering and dying from diseases such as measles and TB due to the absence of affordable medical tools. While we anxiously wait for an effective Covid-19 vaccine, let us ensure that history does not repeat itself. We must rely on one another to do the right thing, and governments and civil society will have to hold each country to account in ensuring that any vaccine is distributed equitably and transparently. – Yours, etc,

Dr LAURA HEAVEY,

Chairwoman,

Médecins Sans Frontières

(MSF) Ireland,

Baggot Street,

Dublin 4.