Global Vaccine Inequity

March 10, 2023 • Volume 33, Issue 9
Can international health systems tackle the problem?
By Corine Hegland


The COVID-19 pandemic exposed stark inequities in the global health infrastructure. Public funds helped pay for the development of vaccines in record time. But only people living in wealthy countries, which bought more doses than they could use, could reliably access vaccines during the first year of availability. Most people in low- and lower middle-income countries could not get them. Studies suggest that in the first year of vaccine availability, between 600,000 and 1.3 million people may have died as a result of this inequity. Public health experts are now looking at the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic and developing plans for a better, fairer response to the next pandemic. Under the auspices of the World Health Organization, public health experts are developing future structures for global distribution of vaccines and an expansion of the global vaccine manufacturing base.

Photo of lab worker with assay tubes, Garin, Argentina, on August 13, 2020. (Getty Images/Ricardo Ceppi)
A lab worker handles assay tubes at the mAbxience biotechnology company — one of many manufacturers producing the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine — in Garin, Argentina, in 2020. The pandemic exposed the inequities in the global health infrastructure of vaccine distribution. (Getty Images/Ricardo Ceppi)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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