November 11, 2020
Bold, evidence-based activism and advocacy have shaped the HIV response for nearly 40 years. To help bring the same focus and power to COVID-19 vaccine advocacy, AVAC has developed the Advocate’s Guide to COVID-19 Vaccine Access.
Monday’s announcement that Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine showed high levels of effectiveness was great news. As AVAC and TAG said in a statement yesterday, it’s now key to confirm the data and, at the same time, to begin to plan for rapid, affordable and equitable access to this and other vaccines.
The Advocate’s Guide is a timely tool for building the movement to make this happen. It provides plain-language explanations of the necessary components for equitable access to help inform and support advocates. These critical elements include:
- Adequate funding to the financing mechanisms supporting access: International development agencies should prioritize funding the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) to secure vaccine access for low and middle income countries (LMICs).
- Equity in vaccine purchasing: Some wealthy countries are limiting the supply of vaccines available for LMICs by entering into direct agreements with vaccine developers to secure millions of doses for the exclusive use of their own citizens.
- Pricing at low or no cost to all who need it: Fair pricing depends on transparency, and product developers must disclose development costs—both their own investments as well as the amounts received from public sector sources.
- Equitable distribution: Distribution criteria must be clear, ethical, rights-based, and include metrics for ensuring vaccine access for prioritized populations.
- Resilient health systems: Health systems and supply chains require national investments to prepare for the deployment of approved vaccines.
Advocates can demand that public health and human rights govern the eventual distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, not profits or politics. Initiatives to advance equitable access are already underway, such as the The People’s Pandemic Prevention Plan (of which AVAC is a supporter), the People’s Vaccine Alliance and the recent TRIPS waiver submitted by India and South Africa.
AIDS activists have a long history of building strong, specific, audacious access campaigns. As COVID-19 work continues, we’ll need to use those muscles to fight for global equity for COVID vaccines. AVAC looks forward to working with allies, including through the COVID Advocates Advisory Board (CAAB), to articulate specific campaigns focused on investments, legislation and more. And you can use the Guide to begin mapping strategy, identifying targets, and informing the following advocacy actions:
- Review decisions that have been made or are under consideration where you live;
- Formulate demands that are most relevant to your work; and
- Find out who is working on access planning and how you can connect with them.
We look forward to hearing your feedback and to collaborating on advocacy for rapid, equitable access.