Head of Vaccine Alliance: Global access to COVID-19 vaccine 'the only way to beat the pandemic’

In past 10 days, two COVID-19 vaccine candidates have shown 90% plus success in phase 3 trials. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters
In past 10 days, two COVID-19 vaccine candidates have shown 90% plus success in phase 3 trials. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

The global pandemic has highlighted the economic chasms between nations, with some health systems well-equipped to handle coronavirus testing, tracing and treatment, while others were quickly overwhelmed.

When it comes to getting a COVID-19 vaccine however, it is vital that rich and poor countries have equal access to immunisation, according to Seth Berkley, the chief executive of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

In The Economist’s “The World in 2021” special report, Berkley says mass, rapid vaccination could mark the beginning of the end of the crisis.

“This can happen only if we are first successful in developing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, and if those vaccines are made simultaneously and fairly available to people in all countries, regardless of their wealth,” he says.


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Berkley applauds the “unparalleled” way global leaders have reacted so far in terms of cooperating on vaccine development solutions for the whole world. “A global exit strategy also offers our best chance of success,” he said.

“Why governments of wealthy countries are willing to let people in the poorest parts of the world get vaccinated before millions of their own citizens, is quite simply that it is necessary,” Berkley writes. “The sooner people in all corners of the world are protected, the sooner we can end the acute phase of this pandemic.”

Gavi, together with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO, is co-leader of COVAX, the global coalition to accelerate development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and guarantee fair, equitable access for every country in the world.

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It is aiming to provide two billion doses by the end of 2021, “which should be enough to protect high-risk and vulnerable people, as well as front-line health-care workers,” he says.

He writes that while there is still a lot that needs to happen, “the fact that we have come this far bodes well, not just for how quickly we end this pandemic, but for future preparedness and resilience for the next one.”

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