The more difficult question is how to do this. If we agree with UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab, among others, that we need to, and can, bring the date of an adequate level of global vaccinations forward from 2024 to the end of 2022, we need to get our skates on. This is particularly so in developing countries, notably in Africa, where a large proportion of the population remains unvaccinated.
What needs to be done to bring the date forward? To start, I think the overconcentration and, at times, emotional debate on vaccine equity is an unnecessary distraction. It was always going to be the case that Covax donor countries would have vaccine access levels greatly higher than those of recipient countries. It was also always going to be, as with any project requiring international co-operation, that there was going to be some politics and sense of injustice, real or perceived.
Yet the nature of the pandemic is that it’s in everyone’s self-interest to have vaccines distributed as widely and as quickly as possible. Policy that provides access solely based on ability to pay would be a grave error. The pandemic does not recognise that some parts of the world have limited economic significance. The contribution of 500-million doses by the US and 100-million by the UK, other donations to Covax and similar initiatives, suggests donors want to avoid this error.