Equitable access to Covid-19 vaccine

 

Sir, – As the world eagerly awaits positive results of Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials in the hopes of getting the pandemic under control, this week’s announcement that Pfizer and BioNTech’s clinical trial is more than 90 per cent effective is a significant development, even if more details of the trial data and analysis are needed before drawing concrete conclusions. But if Covid-19 vaccines are to be treated as a global public health interest, there must be more transparency on all vaccine licensing agreements; what’s in these deals, how many doses are manufactured, what prices are set and who gets access to the first doses. An estimated 85 per cent (1.1 billion/1.3 billion) of the projected initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine have already been sold to high-income countries in non-transparent bilateral deals, leaving a very small slice of their production capacity for developing countries and communities affected by humanitarian crises. It would be inexcusable if future approved Covid-19 vaccines are not accessible to the people in priority groups, including frontline healthcare workers and people at the highest risk that need them across the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

We in Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) call on governments to be bold at this critical juncture for the health of billions of people, take responsibility for the billions of euro that they have handed over for these vaccines, and demand that pharmaceutical corporations urgently make public all licenses, agreements, clinical trial costs and data related to Covid-19 vaccines. Without such decisive action, truly equitable global access to future Covid-19 vaccines is in jeopardy. – Yours, etc,

ISABEL SIMPSON,

Executive Director,

Médecins Sans

Frontières Ireland, Dublin 4.