Vaccines: “From those for Covid to those for HPV, the inequalities in access are enormous”. The new WHO report

Dg Tedros: “This new report shows that the dynamics of the free market are depriving some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world of the right to vaccines. WHO calls for much-needed changes to the global vaccine market to save lives, prevent disease and prepare for future crises. ” THE REPORT


10 NOV

“Unequal distribution is not unique to COVID-19 vaccines, with poorer countries constantly struggling to access the vaccines required by richer countries.” This is what WHO denounces in its report ‘Global Vaccine Market 2022 ”.

But not only Covid, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that fights cervical cancer for example has only been introduced in 41% of low-income countries, even if they represent a large part of the disease burden, compared to 83% of countries. high income.

And there is also the profit that becomes an obstacle to access to the vaccine. “While prices tend to be tiered by income, price disparities see middle-income countries paying as much – or even more – than wealthier ones for different vaccine products,” writes WHO.

“The right to health includes the right to vaccines,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Yet this new report shows that free market dynamics are depriving some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people of that right. WHO calls for much-needed changes to the global vaccine market to save lives, prevent disease and prepare. for future crises “.

In 2021, approximately 16 billion doses of the vaccine were supplied, worth $ 141 billion, almost three times the market volume of 2019 (5.8 billion) and almost three and a half times the market value of 2019 ( 38 billion dollars). The increase was mainly driven by COVID-19 vaccines, which “show the incredible potential of how vaccine production can be increased in response to health needs.”

Although production capacity around the world has increased, it remains highly concentrated. Ten manufacturers alone provide 70% of the vaccine doses (excluding COVID-19). Many of the top 20 most widely used vaccines (such as those containing PCV, HPV, measles and rubella) currently depend primarily on two suppliers.

“This concentrated manufacturing base – reports the WHO – carries the risk of shortages and the insecurity of regional supplies. In 2021, the regions of Africa and the eastern Mediterranean depended on producers based elsewhere for 90% of the vaccines purchased. The entrenched monopolies of intellectual property and the limited transfer of technology further limit the ability to build and use local manufacturing capacity ”.

And again: “The health of the markets is also of concern for many of the vaccines commonly needed for emergencies, such as against cholera, typhus, smallpox / monkeypox, Ebola, meningococcal disease, where demand increases with outbreaks and it is therefore less predictable. Continued limited investment in these vaccines could be devastating to people’s lives.

Report highlights opportunities for greater alignment of vaccine development, manufacturing and distribution with a public health agenda towards achieving goals of the 2030 Agenda for Immunization (IA2030) and information on efforts to prevent, prepare and respond to the pandemic ”.

“COVID-19 – highlights the report – has shown that vaccines can be developed and distributed rapidly, with a process lasting an average of ten years but never less than four years, compressed to 11 months. The pandemic has also highlighted the need to recognize vaccines as a fundamental and economically advantageous public good rather than a commodity ”.

To lead ambitious action to provide equal access to vaccines, the report calls on governments to act on: clear immunization plans and more aggressive investments and stronger oversight of vaccine development, production and distribution; regional research and production centers; and preliminary rules for government collaboration in times of scarcity on issues such as vaccine distribution, intellectual property, and the circulation of inputs and goods.

Recommended industry actions include: focusing research efforts on WHO priority pathogens, ensuring transparency, facilitating technology transfer and engaging in specific equity-based allocation measures. International organizations and partners should prioritize the goals of the 2030 Agenda for immunization, support country-led initiatives and push for the implementation of market transparency resolutions.

November 10, 2022
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Vaccines: “From those for Covid to those for HPV, the inequalities in access are enormous”. The new WHO report

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