Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, several studies showed that an equitable rollout of countermeasures would have allowed us to get over COVID-19 more quickly, saving numerous lives and limiting socio-economic harm. Yet the global response was far from equal.
Equitable access was inadequately addressed at every stage of the response, which resulted in products that are not appropriate for all settings and a race to secure unpredictable funding. As a result, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) were at the back of the queue for purchasing countermeasures and had to wait for donations from rich countries to be able to tackle the pandemic.
A fundamental shift in mindset is needed.
The future must design a system that puts global public health and equitable access to tools at the center of policies, processes, and investments. Real equity means ensuring LMICs can create, manufacture, and buy countermeasures when needed, and the tools and finances to enable this to happen.
Without a complete reboot, LMICs and rich countries alike risk being stuck in a system that is not only a barrier to equity and access for all, but is also more likely to extend the timeframe of a global pandemic, harming us all. Working together across continents and sectors, we can learn the lessons from COVID-19 as well as previous outbreaks, and deliver a system that will benefit us all — but only with dedicated effort.
Read our latest policy paper including recommendations to establish a new equitable, effective, and efficient pandemic countermeasures platform that will be key in responding to future health threats.