COVID vaccines for all? Or just for rich countries?

We quarantine, we mask, we worry. Right now, the Holy Grail for ending the COVID-19 pandemic — and finally returning our lives to normal — is filled with vials and vials of vaccine. Older folks and other at-risk workers are first up in the scramble to be immunized, and our new president is promising to beef up production so it can get out to all Americans over the coming months.

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

None of us will be safe until the entire world is safe.

The U.S. could be a leader by, at a minimum, supporting the proposed TRIPS waiver. So far, the administration has not indicated it’s willing to take that stand. Our new president needs to hear that we don’t want a repeat of the deadly debacle that occurred in rollout of AIDS drugs. And the U.S. could go much further than that by spearheading an international initiative to assure global access to COVID vaccines. There is a precedent. The President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, established in 2003 by then-president Bush, is estimated to have saved over 18 million men, women and children from death due to AIDS.

Mary Anne Mercer writes on a range of topics related to social justice, global health, and globalization. She is completing a memoir of her year in rural Nepal.