Fair and equitable access to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines

Policy Briefing

Published 29/05/2020

This rapid policy briefing highlights the key challenges for policy makers, regulatory bodies, industry, and research institutions to ensure fair and equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID vaccine smaller

COVID-19 research underway

There is a significant effort towards global collaboration for the development of tests, treatments, and vaccines for COVID-19. At present, there are over 200 authorised diagnostic tests to help detect COVID-19 and almost 100 drugs in human clinical trials. Research is underway investigating the possibilities of repurposing existing drugs to treat COVID-19. Different treatments in development include antiviral drugs, immunosuppressants/immunomodulators to modify or suppress the immune response, anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as cell and plasma-based therapies which use antibodies from the blood plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Alongside efforts to develop treatments for COVID-19, there are over 100 vaccines in the early or preclinical development phase and ten in clinical trials. No vaccines for other types of coronavirus (such as MERS-Cov or SARS-Cov) have been successfully developed and there is uncertainty concerning how long acquired immunity can last, with some evidence to suggest that immunity can be short-lived. Two out of every three candidate vaccines for infectious diseases usually fails, which means there are significant obstacles to overcome before an effective vaccine can be discovered and made available.