The Covid-19 pandemic is global, and to bring the pandemic to a close, a collaborative, global approach is needed. But why is it so important that all countries have access to vaccines as soon as possible?
This web page was last updated in 2021. The information provided here may not reflect current developments or research.
What does equitable access mean?
Equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines means that:
- they are available to those who need them most, regardless of where they have been developed or who funded them
- appropriate options exist for all healthcare settings, whether in low- or high-income countries
- safe and effective options reach all groups of people, regardless of race, age or other demographics
- they are affordable to poor and rich countries alike, not only to those who can pay the most.
Why is equitable access important?
No one is protected against Covid-19 unless everyone is. The longer some countries go without Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, the more the virus will continue to spread, mutate and threaten all of us.
Our only sustainable way out of the pandemic is through global collective action, where each country contributes their fair share.
Without equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines in all countries, the pandemic will last for much longer than it should. That will translate into many more lives and livelihoods lost, and could cause the global economy to lose $9.2 trillion in 2021.
What leaders can do
To change the course of the pandemic, governments and international organisations must continue to invest in the research and development of Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments – that are effective against existing variants, and new and emerging ones – and make sure they are distributed fairly.
There are two main things they can do.
1. Invest in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator
The ACT-Accelerator is a global collaboration of health organisations, scientists, businesses, civil society, governments and philanthropies, including Wellcome, working together to get lifesaving tests, treatments and vaccines from the laboratory to the front line.
However, its progress is at grave risk due to significant underfunding. A $16.8 billion funding gap for the ACT-Accelerator is hindering the rollout of Covid-19 tools in many low- and middle-income countries, putting millions of lives at risk.
We're calling for leaders to look outwards and contribute their fair share to making tests, treatments and vaccines available to all, by investing in the ACT-Accelerator.
2. Donate excess vaccine doses through COVAX
Covid-19 vaccination rates are accelerating across the world. But the majority of vaccinations so far have been in wealthy countries, leaving large parts of the global population unprotected. Science has given us the exit route from this pandemic, but it will only work if its benefits can reach the maximum number of people around the world.
We're calling for rich countries that have secured lots of excess vaccine doses to donate these through COVAX, who will ensure that vaccines go where they are needed most.
Which countries currently have access to Covid-19 vaccines? And how can these countries ensure that those who need vaccines get them?
Coronavirus treatments and vaccines should first be made available to those who need them most, public polling in several countries shows.