G20 leaders must address global vaccine inequities

Posted on 07 September 2021

As G20 health ministers meet this week in Rome, a renewed commitment from high income countries to address global vaccine inequities, must be top of the agenda.
It has widely been acknowledged that in a pandemic, ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’. However, the current disparity between low and high income countries, highlights a systemic failure that risks undermining global recovery efforts.

Source: UNDP Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity
At a World Health Organisation press conference on 2 September, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said that less than 3% of Africans have been vaccinated and Africa accounts for only 2% of vaccines distributed globally. She went on to say:
“With political pressures driving the introduction of booster shots and countries with high vaccination rates expanding their rollouts to reach to lower-risk groups, our hopes for global vaccine equity are once again being dashed.”
Dr Moeti called for dose-sharing arrangements to be stepped up and said that:
“Longer-term, African countries are putting in place systems and hubs to produce vaccines locally, but to fast track the global recovery from this pandemic, international solidarity remains key.”
Covax, the international initiative set up to share Covid vaccines with low and middle-income countries, is providing much needed support to poorer countries. But more needs to be done.
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said that:
“Additional G20 support can make the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access facility a success. Failure to achieve equitable access would mean more lives lost, broken health-care systems, even deadlier and more transmissible variants, and a pandemic with no end in sight.”
Seth outlines four ways for G20 leaders to support Covax and “recommit to a multilateral solution that builds on the astounding scientific progress of the past year.”