Vaccine access, equity and justice: COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination.
Privor-Dumm L., Excler J-L., Gilbert S., Abdool Karim SS., Hotez PJ., Thompson D., Kim JH.
Although significant progress has been made in achieving goals for COVID-19 vaccine access, the quest for equity and justice remains an unfinished agenda. Vaccine nationalism has prompted calls for new approaches to achieve equitable access and justice not only for vaccines but also for vaccination. This includes ensuring country and community participation in global discussions and that local needs to strengthen health systems, address issues related to social determinants of health, build trust and leverage acceptance to vaccines, are addressed. Regional vaccine technology and manufacturing hubs are promising approaches to address access challenges and must be integrated with efforts to ensure demand. The current situation underlines the need for access, demand and system strengthening to be addressed along with local priorities for justice to be achieved. Innovations to improve accountability and leverage existing platforms are also needed. Sustained political will and investment is required to ensure ongoing production of non-pandemic vaccines and sustained demand, particularly when perceived threat of disease appears to be waning. Several recommendations are made to govern towards justice including codesigning the path forward with low-income and middle-income countries; establishing stronger accountability measures; establishing dedicated groups to engage with countries and manufacturing hubs to ensure that the affordable supply and predictable demand are in balance; addressing country needs for health system strengthening through leveraging existing health and development platforms and delivering on product presentations informed by country needs. Even if difficult, we must converge on a definition of justice well in advance of the next pandemic.