The following is part of a series of posts detailing each of the five strategies to advance global COVID-19 vaccine equity – which rely on and benefit from a strong intellectual property ecosystem.
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen extraordinary partnerships and collaborations between both the public and private sectors, resulting in an intricate and highly sophisticated system for the rapid development and production of billions of doses of life-saving vaccines.
Despite tremendous accomplishments in research and development, and the steadfast commitment to vaccine donations from nations around the world, vaccines are still not reaching everyone. Countries must prepare for vaccine delivery before the doses touch down by removing roadblocks that could stand in the way of quickly vaccinating their local populations. A study from CARE recently estimated that for every $1 spent on vaccine doses, another $5 needs to be invested in delivering the vaccine.
Examples of barriers to country readiness include:
- Developing national vaccination plans
- Establishing regulatory vaccine approval and vaccine safety systems
- Building vaccine distribution infrastructure on the ground, including cold chain capacities
- Training of staff involved in deployment and delivery of vaccines
- Strengthening data collection, reporting and tracking systems
- Addressing hesitancy issues by planning public health campaigns to generate trust and demand for COVID-19 vaccines
As biopharmaceutical manufacturers continue to produce life-saving COVID-19 vaccines in unprecedented quantities, they are also taking steps to increase public confidence by explaining the rigorous process for developing, authorizing and monitoring COVID-19 vaccines. For example, strict drug safety efforts monitor any potential vaccine side effects through partnerships with health care providers, hospitals, patients and caretakers, reassuring the public that immediate action will be taken in the rare event of a complication. An international digital campaign led by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA), #TeamVaccines, provides an inside look at the rigorous scientific evaluations in the vaccine approval process. Additionally, many companies have individual efforts to increase vaccine confidence.
The public and private sectors must continue working together to solve last-mile issues that impact country readiness. Until global leaders shift their focus toward addressing the real barriers complicating global vaccination equity, there is a real danger that global vaccine deployment will be unnecessarily delayed and even worse that vaccine doses will be destroyed, slowing down the global recovery.
Megan Van Etten Megan Van Etten is senior director of public affairs at PhRMA. She is responsible for leading the association’s public affairs efforts on international issues, including trade, intellectual property and access to medicines. Prior to joining PhRMA, Megan was director of media and external communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and communications director at the Beer Institute. She has also worked as a communications consultant for global public relations firms. When not at the office, Megan enjoys exploring new Washington, D.C. restaurants and traveling with her husband and friends.