Global Vaccine Access Report | September 2021
This report outlines the key findings and recommendations made by the APPG on Coronavirus. The UK is still experiencing a high number of daily Covid-19 cases, with an average of over 30,000 cases per day. The evidence heard by the APPG makes clear that, while the UK Government should complete the UK's domestic vaccination programme, including offering vaccines to teenagers, there is an urgent need for the UK government to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines across the world, both now and in the long term. The APPG recommends that the UK government must urgently show global leadership in the effort to vaccinate the world. Despite the life-saving vaccines in our toolbox, the fight against Covid-19, both in the UK and the rest of the world, cannot be won until vaccines can be accessed equitably in all lower and-middle-income countries.
The UK government must adopt a sustainable approach by which, in the short term, vaccines are donated from the UK to COVAX through a vaccine matching policy in which for each dose imported to the UK, one dose is donated to COVAX. In the longer term, the government must ensure that capacity for vaccine manufacture is accelerated both abroad, and in the UK. Additionally, it is essential that the UK government shows support to the WTO TRIPS waiver proposal and technology transfer, enabling vaccine manufacturing capability in low and-middle-income countries to progress.
To meet demands of expanding the vaccine rollout nationally, it is essential that the UK continues to invest in the research required to ensure that safe and effective vaccines are developed for all ages.
Overall, the evidence makes clear there is an urgent need to close the global vaccine divide. Failure to do risks not only the health, but the wealth and security of the both the UK and the world.
1. The UK government must urgently show global leadership in the effort to vaccinate the world. The APPG on Coronavirus recommends that the UK government:
1.1 Immediately adopt a policy of vaccine matching, in which for each dose of the vaccine imported to the UK, one dose is donated to COVAX for distribution to countries that urgently need access to vaccines
1.2 The UK should immediately rapidly expand the UK’s domestic vaccine production capability to meet the ongoing domestic vaccine demand and with the objective of becoming a net vaccine exporter
1.3 The UK government should support the WTO TRIPS waiver proposal, accompanied by the associated transfer of technology, to boost vaccine manufacturing capability in low- and middle-income countries.
2. The UK government must prioritise ensuring vaccines are distributed to lower-and middle-income countries, through COVAX, before offering booster vaccines to healthy adults in the UK.
3. Domestically, and ahead of winter, the UK Government should prioritise making vaccines available to vulnerable children and children living in households with those who are clinically extremely vulnerable. The UK booster campaign should be limited to vulnerable and immuno-suppressed adults.
4. Due to the sustained high number of daily cases of Covid-19 in the UK and resulting hospital occupancy, the APPG on Coronavirus recommends that in addition to increasing NHS funding to cover the additional costs and elective care backlogs created by Covid-19, the UK government must produce a plan to permanently increase NHS and Care Sector capacity including the recruitment of doctors, nurses and medical staff. This will be necessary to ensure NHS and Care Sector capacity and staffing levels are increased to match the new and ongoing NHS and Care Sector staffing requirements caused by the ongoing high case and hospitalisation rate due to Covid-19 in the UK.
5. Due to the high probability of vaccine-evading variants of Covid-19 arising1, the APPG on Coronavirus recommends that the UK government commits to adopting all recommendations outlined in the SAGE report ‘Long term evolution of SARS-CoV-2’2. In addition, the UK government must urgently produce contingency plans for each scenario outlined by SAGE and provide regular updates to Parliament on preparations made.
1. Covid-19 will continue to pose a serious threat to the UK’s public health, economy and security while much of the world remains unvaccinated.
2. The UK government has shown leadership in its national rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, however, it has failed to show global leadership on global vaccine access.
3. The UK government has thus far employed a charity model approach to vaccine donations. Its failure to support the WTO TRIPS waiver proposal, in conjunction with only surplus vaccine supplies being donated on an ad hoc basis, means life-saving vaccines are unable to be supplied where needed most.
4. At present, there is limited evidence to suggest that a booster programme for healthy adults is required in the UK. Rather, there is a greater threat to the progress and success of the national vaccine rollout while much of the world remains unvaccinated, due to the risk of new variants being imported.
5. With the current Delta variant, reaching herd immunity is ‘not a possibility’. It is ’absolutely inevitable’ that vaccine evading variants will emerge.
6. There is a serious risk of repeating the medical divide witnessed during the HIV/AIDS crisis. As with lack of access to diagnostic and therapeutic tools during the HIV/AIDS crisis, failure to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines risks creating a new and equally damaging global medical divide.
7. Most children presenting to emergency and critical care due to COVID-19 infection are the ‘most vulnerable children’. Based on current evidence, such children should be given a Covid-19 vaccine.