The Omicron variant highlights the importance of international vaccine equity. Until we get a critical mass of the world vaccinated the SARS CoV2 virus will have ample opportunities to create new more transmissible variants, perhaps even a variant that evades previously acquired immunity from vaccines and infection. We don’t know for sure whether Omicron is either of those things yet- but it might be. The answer to preventing new variants is and always has been international vaccine equity.
At an early stage during this pandemic, it quickly became apparent that to end this global crisis we don’t just need COVID-19 vaccines, we also need to ensure that everyone in the world has access to them. This triggered global leaders to call for a solution that would accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as diagnostics and treatments, and guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to them for people in all countries.
That organization is called COVAX. Up until January 2021 (after President Biden took office) the U.S. was not a member of COVAX, but we did join the organization on the first day of the Biden Administration. Extraordinary, don’t you think? The country with the highest GDP in the world and a leading democracy wasn’t a member? Well, that changed on 1/21/21 along with the U.S. rejoining the World Health Organization.
COVAX brings together governments, global health organizations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society and philanthropy, to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. It is the only truly global solution to this pandemic because it is the only effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are available, regardless of their wealth.
For lower-income funded nations, who would otherwise be unable to afford these vaccines COVAX is the only viable way in which their citizens will get access to COVID-19 vaccines. Ninety-two low- and middle-income economies are eligible to participate in receiving vaccine through COVAX AMC… here is the list of countries authorized to receive vaccine under the program.
Many changes including more finding, donations and release of intellectual property need to happen before COVAX can live up to their mission. Visit this AzPHA PowerPoint for more details: