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November update: The race for an equitable COVID-19 vaccine


With Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca all announcing this month that their vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are proving to be highly effective in clinical trials, the world is closer to finding a safe and effective vaccine to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic will not end with a vaccine, but when everyone, everywhere has equal access to it.

That’s why we launched our Vaccine Access Test in September. The Test provides the framework to answer one important question: Are the actions taken by world leaders and players moving us closer to or further from an equitable outcome for the pandemic? The Test measures this through a variety of factors, including support for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), policies, multilateral leadership, and deals.

Since our October update, there have been many changes. Here are the latest findings as of November 2020.

How scores have changed this month

The following scores have changed as of November 2020:

  • Canada’s score has surpassed the US, and five other countries and companies.
  • Three new deals have been scored since October, including between the UK and Moderna, the European Commission and Pfizer/BioNTech, and the European Commission and CureVac.
  • CureVac has been added to the test with a score of 1 out of 15.
  • The European Commission has seen an increase in its score by a third of a point.
  • Australia has gained a point.
  • The UK increased its score after aligning with global allocation guidelines on the most recent deal with Moderna.
  • Moderna’s score has increased by 2 points.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech have both received an increase of 0.2 on the average deal scores.
  • GSK and Sandofi have received a 1 point increase.

Here’s a look at the current scores

The latest findings

This month, AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Moderna all announced that their vaccine candidates for COVID-19 were proving to be effective in clinical trials. This is a major stride in the fight against COVID-19 and the news has shifted the discussion from “if” to “when” we could see the end to the pandemic.

However, not all of the vaccine candidates are bringing us closer to an equitable outcome. BioNTech, Pfizer, and Moderna are not currently participating in the ACT-A and COVAX, they have struck bilateral deals that do not promote equity, and they are behind in committing to non-profit pricing. Their gap in commitment to creating an equitable vaccine puts them in the bottom third of our Test.

AstraZeneca, however, continues to hold the top spot on our Test due to continued collaboration with the ACT-A, commitment to non-profit pricing throughout the pandemic, and tech-transfers to scale up technology.

What happens next

As deals continue to be made, we want world leaders to know we’re watching. Our Vaccine Access Test will continue to assess these deals on whether or not we are moving closer to or further from an equitable outcome for COVID-19. To ensure we move closer to an equitable outcome, countries and companies should:

  • Fully fund the ACT-A.
  • Advance policies to speed up production and distribution of successful vaccines.
  • Identify mechanisms that will allow for the quick exchange or buy-back of excess vaccine supply.
  • Share technologies and knowledge that aligns with the WHO’s Solidarity Call to Action.
  • Increase the transparency on every element of deals.

Despite major progress in the creation of a vaccine, the hard work really begins now, because the COVID-19 pandemic won’t end until everyone, everywhere has equal access to that vaccine.

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