IAS statement: COVID-19 vaccine equity remains elusive despite new vaccine development site in South Africa

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“IAS – the International AIDS Society – warmly welcomes the news that a COVID-19 vaccine will soon also be produced in South Africa. Suffering driven by vaccine inequity would largely be a thing of the past if low- to middle-income countries had the capacity to control the production and distribution of life-saving vaccines.

“But this good news comes with caveats. To truly empower low- to middle-income countries in the response to COVID-19 and future pandemics, the transfer of technologies and know-how to produce vaccines must also be guaranteed.

“We have learned many tough lessons in four decades of the global HIV response. Chief among them is that moving decision making – and the manufacturing and distribution of treatment and prevention tools – closer to those most vulnerable to infection can make a dramatic difference in halting the spread of disease.

“Twenty years ago, life-saving antiretroviral drugs finally made their way to sub-Saharan African – but not before millions had lost their lives.

“Today’s agreement between drug companies to produce the COVID-19 vaccine in Africa, while encouraging, will not kick in until early 2022. Ensuring equitable access to vaccines across Africa and other low- to middle-income countries remains an urgent priority and our shared moral obligation.”

All quotes for attribution to IAS President Adeeba Kamarulzaman.

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