WKF: Equal Access is Another Hurdle to COVID-19 Solution After Vaccine Development
Multinational efforts are ongoing to develop effective jabs against COVID-19 that already killed nearly 1 million people around the world, but the development of a vaccine alone will not end this global crisis due to multiple challenging issues concerning supplies, mutations and origin of the virus, experts said.
“Even though many wealthy governments are negotiating bilateral deals with individual vaccine manufacturers, there is no guarantee that they will ultimately be able to get them for their citizens and we need billions of doses, making them available to people in every corner of the globe,” Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance as he joined the World Knowledge Forum online debate in Seoul Friday.
Dr. Berkley called for a global approach like COVAX, an initiative co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), aiming at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the world once the vaccines become available.
Another critical aspect of this initiative is its full support for speedy vaccine development given the mounting death tolls and an economic impact that costs $500 billion every month.
Unlike a normal 10-year vaccine development program, COVAX is trying to complete development within an 18-month timeframe through sequential trials and incentives to manufacturers with an initial aim of having 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, which he believes should be enough to protect high-risk and vulnerable people, as well as frontline health workers.
Dr. Jerome H. Kim, Director-General of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), echoed the initiative’s equity and access in vaccine distribution, citing that “13 years after a rotavirus vaccine was approved by the U.S. FDA and 11 years after the WHO’s recommendation, less than 40 percent of children receive necessary three doses.”
By Minu Kim
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