Providing fair and equal access to a future COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine is the right thing to do
The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike any other global health crisis and the most challenging the world has faced since the Second World War. Spreading across 200 countries and territories, the virus has infected more than 2.5 million people, killing over 170,000 and forcing countries into economic crisis as well. It has destabilized the global economy, exposed the weakness of health systems, and upended the lives of billions around the globe. Our own estimates indicate that at least 50 million people will fall into extreme poverty as a result of it.
Working together to develop a vaccine
, with a focus on the financing and manufacturing of vaccines for global access.
While some progress has already been made,
Given the enormous health, social, and economic consequences of the pandemic, it is in all our interests to work collaboratively and help provide the necessary financing. We know from past experiences that direct government contributions and innovative finance mechanisms have successfully helped raise funds for vaccines. The same approach should apply today.
The World Bank also supports the new COVID-19 accelerator initiative announced by several of our partner organizations to speed the development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
A fair global allocation system
Three guiding principles will be key: working quickly, manufacturing and deploying the vaccine at scale, and ensuring global access. Several colleagues and I laid out these principles in more detail in a recent article in The Lancet.
At the World Bank, we have started a massive COVID-19 response, with financing of up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to support countries across all regions as they address the immediate health needs and mitigate the near- and longer-term economic and social impacts of the pandemic.
We are funding part of the work done by CEPI to speed up the development process and help lower the cost of manufacturing. Nevertheless, we will need additional financial support from the public and private sectors as well as philanthropies.
Vaccines should first be made available in stages to different population groups — prioritizing health care workers at the front lines of the COVID-19 response as well as people at greatest risk of severe illness and death.
The private sector has an important role to play
The rudiments of this system would require a global purchasing agent, access to financial instruments, and indemnification from liability to offset the risks taken by participating private sector partners. IFC, the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, is well positioned to lead this effort. It stands ready to support the expansion of manufacturing capacity and to co-sponsor global access to the vaccines.
To stop this virus, we can’t do it alone. We need to act together because it is in everyone’s interest.
This is a moral imperative: quite simply, it is the right thing to do.