Large expansion in vaccine production and equitable distribution are vital

A massive scaling up of global vaccine production, and equitable distribution of vaccines, tests and treatments, are essential to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some countries are making progress on vaccinating their whole populations, more than 100 countries have yet to receive a single dose. The 190-country COVAX facilityhas set a target of vaccinating 20% of people in the world’s poorest countries by the end of this year, but on current trends even that will not be realised. Meanwhile, richer countries are ordering enough vaccines to inoculate their entire populations several times over.

Vaccine nationalism and market forces won’t defeat the pandemic; only international cooperation can bring it under control. We need an urgent global effort to produce enough vaccines and get them to everyone, with priority for the most vulnerable and also for the frontline workers who are saving lives and keeping economies and societies functioning.

“Those politicians who are playing nationalistic games or spreading misinformation are not only undermining trust but also deepening inequalities, with devastating consequences for developing countries in particular. The moral imperative to provide vaccinations to all people in the world is underpinned by the public health need to suppress the virus in every part of the world,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

Urgent action

Specific action is needed in:

  • government-led initiatives to ramp up production of approved vaccines and continue development of new vaccines;
  • removal of intellectual property barriers, including the implementation of TRIPS waivers and measures to stop price-gouging on vaccines, tests and treatments;
  • further investment in COVAX;
  • accelerated support for production capacity in developing countries to meet the needs of this and future pandemics;
  • investment in health and other public services to ensure vaccines can be distributed and given efficiently, and investment in social protection;
  • a crackdown on social media and other companies profiting from the spread of disinformation; and
  • public education campaigns to dispel myths and present the facts.

“Vaccines are crucial to controlling the pandemic, saving lives and ensuring economic reconstruction and resilience. So too are other elements of the global response, including occupational health and safety, work re-organisation, social distancing, ventilation, masks, and a massive increase in testing, including rapid tests for public health screening and monitoring the effectiveness of vaccines. The world must work together. In a global pandemic, self-interest is self-defeating,” said Sharan Burrow.