Equity and Vaccine Allocation: Beyond Ethics in Prioritization to Equitable Production, Distribution, and Consumption

Ethics & International Affairs
Summer 2021 (35.2) August 2021
https://www.ethicsandinternationalaffairs.org/2021/spring-2021-35-1/

 

Equity and Vaccine Allocation: Beyond Ethics in Prioritization to Equitable Production, Distribution, and Consumption
Nicole Hassoun | July 2021
Conclusion
Ethicists interested in equitable international vaccine allocation have traditionally focused on principles for prioritizing patient populations, but to have the greatest health impact—whether one focuses on lives, life years, or something else—we must change the question. We should ask how we can vaccinate everyone most effectively. We need to address the need for adequate manufacturing and distribution systems, health care workers, funding, trust in science, and community engagement. We must rethink how we support research and development and reward pharmaceutical innovation to fairly address the COVID-19 pandemic and many other major global health problems. Doing so will in the long run protect individuals better than merely shifting resources around as several current proposals for equitable allocation suggest. It is also in the best interest of some of the world’s wealthiest countries to help develop basic health systems in countries that lack them and reconsider incentives for new pharmaceutical research and development. We need to foster global solidarity to overcome ongoing pandemics and to prepare for those that will surely come our way. We must do more to ensure that poor countries are not left behind. We should institute basic global health systems and support efforts to research, manufacture, distribute, and help everyone access vaccines and other essential medicines for COVID-19 and other major global health problems.51 Anything less is inequitable.52