A Covid-19 vaccine must be available to everyone

  • Date: 21/12/2020
  • Author: Jo-Ann Ward

A Rohingya woman washes her hands in Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, Bangladesh. Photo credit: Fabeha Monir/ActionAid

A globally accessible and affordable Covid-19 vaccine is the only way to end the pandemic. But if vaccines are only available to wealthy individuals and rich nations, the pandemic will continue to tear societies apart.

In Ireland, we expect that the Covid-19 vaccination programme will lead to the return of a relatively normal lifestyle within a year. But the majority of the world’s population will have to wait at least two to three years to be offered a vaccine. This is due to manufacturing constraints.

This delay will inevitably exacerbate global health and economic inequality. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) is the most promising mechanism to enable manufacturing capacity to meet the global demand for a vaccine. It will enable pharmaceutical companies to share knowledge, data and intellectual property rights with other manufacturers.

ActionAid Ireland is supporting the call by Access to Medicines Ireland to the Irish Government to immediately indicate its support for the WHO C-TAP initiative.

We are making this ask along with leading health experts and NGOs, including; Comhlamh, Oxfam Ireland, Irish Global Health Network, INMO, Prof Sam McConkey RCSI, Prof Luke O’Neil Trinity College Dublin and MSF Ireland.

To end this devastating pandemic, we must put the interests of humanity ahead of the interests of large corporations, big pharma or single governments. 

Covid-19 Vaccine: Leave no one behind

If Covid-19 vaccines are rationed, rather than widely available, women and girls will lose out. Research shows that households often prioritise the needs of male family members when essential services like healthcare and education are not affordable. Women make up 70% of the global health care force so their access to a vaccine is essential.1

We must ensure that vaccines are available to migrants and refugees, stateless people, and people living in countries facing sanctions.

Principles of solidarity and justice are the only way out of the Covid-19 nightmare. 

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