A Five Step Plan for a People’s Vaccine
Date: 20 May 2021
People’s Vaccine Policy Manifesto May 2021
The world is facing a vaccine apartheid – billions of people are unprotected facing the threat of illness and death from this cruel disease.
Billions are also facing hunger and destitution as economies are locked down and grind to a halt. Billions are facing the huge social impacts, including children without an education and women facing increased violence and many more hours of unpaid care work.
Insufficient vaccine supply combined with rich country hoarding of doses mean most of the developing world faces this killer disease with minimal access to protection. While public money funded the vaccine research, development and manufacturing, pharmaceutical corporations have a monopoly on how many doses are produced, who gets them and what price they pay. These corporations get to decide who lives and who dies.
This is entirely self-defeating. The virus is mutating all the time. The majority of epidemiologists surveyed by the People’s Vaccine Alliance believe it could be a year or less before our current vaccines are rendered largely ineffective. At the same time, the cost to the global economy of failing to vaccinate the world is estimated to be $9 trillion dollars.
In the past, governments have collectively agreed to set ambitious goals for what needs to happen to save lives: the eradication of smallpox; the control of Malaria; the target for HIV treatment; and the eradication of Polio. For Covid-19 rich nations have set ambitious goals within their own borders to achieve widescale adult vaccination within months. Shamefully this level of ambition has not been replicated at the global level. Currently, the limit of the global ambition is to vaccinate 27% of humanity by the end of 2021, with all evidence suggesting even this goal is off track. This double standard is unacceptable. It will cost millions of lives.
The science and the economics are crystal clear. The majority of the world’s people must have access to a vaccine. We cannot settle for vaccinating just three in ten people in developing countries. This will not control the virus and it will not end this pandemic. Instead, world leaders must agree and implement a far more ambitious goal, based on what is needed. We must agree a clear plan to meet that need. This will require maximising vaccine manufacturing through open sharing of vaccine technology and know-how, waiving intellectual property protections and a huge coordinated investment in manufacturing and distribution of vaccines, delivered free of charge to people.
Five steps governments must take to a Peoples Vaccine
1. Agree and implement a global roadmap to herd immunity, with at least 60% of people across all countries offered a vaccine by the end of 2021 and a vaccine for all who need one by end of 2022. The roadmap should be based on a manufacturing and distribution plan for the vaccines and all Covid-19 products and technologies, fully funded with fair share financing from rich nations, and fair allocation of doses. It must guarantee vaccines of sufficient number to reach 60% of people in all countries by the end of 2021.
2. Maximise the production of safe and effective vaccines and other Covid-19 products by suspending relevant intellectual property rules and ensuring the mandatory pooling of all Covid-19 related knowledge, data and technologies so that any nation can produce or buy sufficient and affordable doses of vaccines, treatments and tests.
- Immediately support the proposal by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organisation to temporarily waive relevant intellectual property rules under the Agreement of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) for Covid-19 vaccines and other technologies until global herd immunity is achieved.
- Endorse and support the World Health Organisation to operationalise the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), to facilitate sharing vaccine technologies, know-how and intellectual property, and use all policy and legal tools available to insist that pharmaceutical corporations join the pool.
3. Invest public funding now in a rapid and massive increase in vaccine manufacturing as well as research and development (R&D) capacity to build a global distributed network capable of and governed to deliver affordable vaccines as global public goods to all nations.
All countries must invest in the creation of regional R&D and manufacturing hubs with priority given to new capacity in developing countries. The African Union for example has set a target that it will manufacture 60% of its own vaccines. This financing should be based on a system of burden sharing. This should include and build on the new innovations in vaccine technology supercharged by the pandemic such as mRNA, and guarantee the long-term public investment needed to develop and maintain the human capital and physical manufacturing infrastructure required to meet needs now and for future pandemics.
Due to the clear failure of the market alone in ensuring enough vaccines, governments should retain sufficient ownership of these new facilities and work in partnership with the WHO, to ensure their strategic direction and output serves public interest first.
4. Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and tests are provided free of charge to everyone, everywhere, and allocated according to need.
Vaccines are global public goods and must be provided free of charge to people.
Vaccine distribution plans should follow the WHO Equitable Allocation Framework with priority given to frontline workers, people at risk and resource-poor countries with the least capacity to save lives. Allocation plans should be in the public domain and open to consultation and scrutiny and include all people regardless of nationality, residency, or identity. Marginalised groups should be part of the national vaccination programmes including refugees, prisoners, people with disabilities and indigenous populations.
Governments should use all policy and legal tools possible to drive down vaccine prices to reflect ‘true cost’ levels to maximise affordability and secure the lowest possible price.
Rich countries must contribute a proportion of doses secured from bilateral deals to Covax, free of charge and in adherence to the ‘Principles for sharing Covid-19 vaccine doses with Covax’.
5. Scale up sustainable investment in public health systems.
Governments should urgently scale up global financial support for upgrading and expanding public health systems especially primary health care and for the millions of additional health workers needed for a successful vaccine roll out and for delivering everybody’s right to health care. Health services should be free at the point of use, and all user fees eliminated.
Sustained financing of healthcare is urgently needed to ensure global security from emerging diseases and realise the goal of Universal Health Coverage and achieve the right to health for all. We must use the experience of the pandemic to transform health systems across the world – resilient, universal and equitable health systems are a global public good needed to respond to emergencies but also to protect and save lives every day.
A People’s Vaccine
By agreeing to take these five clear steps for the world has the chance to turn this crisis around. An opportunity to build a more robust system of global health, which will give the world the capacity to finally end this pandemic, prepare us for future pandemics and deliver much needed health services and technologies for all who need them. This moment can still be remembered in history as the time we chose to put the collective right to safety for all ahead of the commercial monopolies of the few. We have to act now.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance is a global movement of organisations, world leaders and activists united under a common aim of campaigning for a ‘people’s vaccine’ for Covid-19 that is based on shared knowledge and is freely available to everyone everywhere. The People’s Vaccine is supported by over 2 million activists worldwide and 175 former world leaders and Nobel prize winning scientists. www.peoplesvaccine.org