An Ethical Framework for Global Vaccine Allocation

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Once effective COVID vaccines are developed, they will be scarce.  Allocation among countries raises complex issues among three groups: the COVAX facility led by WHO and GAVI, producers committed to a broad and equitable distribution, and national governments seeking priority.  The authors propose a “Fair Priority Model” as a common ethical framework to reduce duplication and waste. The authors question the assumption that equality requires treating differently situated countries identically, rather than equitably responding to their different needs regarding premature death and economic devastation.  However, “all countries should eventually receive sufficient vaccine to halt transmission, which is projected to require that 60-70% of the population be immune.”

Note: As of 2 Sept, 76 wealthy nations (not including the US, China, and Russia) are committed to the COVAX access plan to help buy and fairly distribute vaccines for their populations by the end of 2021, and partner with 92 poorer nations supported by voluntary donations to the plan.