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Global Vaccine Leadership Wanted

Summary:
We should be planning to vaccinate the world annually, but we are on track to take twice as long, not least because vaccine developers are withholding their intellectual property so that they can recoup costs. Yet there is a straightforward solution that would leave everyone better off. CAMBRIDGE – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, the old adage goes. But the world’s current vaccination plan is very much “broke,” and nobody seems to be fixing it, despite the disastrous consequences for lives, livelihoods, and the global economy. Share the Intellectual Property on COVID-19 Guillame Souvant/AFP via Getty Images Climate Change vs.

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We should be planning to vaccinate the world annually, but we are on track to take twice as long, not least because vaccine developers are withholding their intellectual property so that they can recoup costs. Yet there is a straightforward solution that would leave everyone better off.

CAMBRIDGE – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, the old adage goes. But the world’s current vaccination plan is very much “broke,” and nobody seems to be fixing it, despite the disastrous consequences for lives, livelihoods, and the global economy.

This was supposed to be the year of recovery. But, from an epidemiological standpoint, it is shaping up to be worse than 2020, and current dynamics suggest that 2022 will be no better.

It does not have to be this way. But getting onto a better path will require strong global leadership that, for once, eschews wishful thinking.

Let’s look at the facts. Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths are running at over 800,000 and 12,000, respectively. And they are on track to surpass the peaks reached in January 2021. Not only is India in the grips of a devastating virus surge; other countries that have mostly been spared so far, including in Asia and Africa, are also likely to face serious outbreaks.

The world has multiple effective vaccines available. But it is not moving nearly fast enough to administer them: about 18 million doses are currently being administered daily, down from 18.6 million two weeks ago. Given that most vaccines must be administered in two doses, this means that it will take two years to vaccinate 80% of the world’s population.

Those two years are unlikely to be pleasant. Israel’s highly successful vaccination drive has brought...

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