Assessing the viability of access and benefit-sharing models of equitable distribution of vaccines in international law

About the project

“Assessing the viability of access and benefit-sharing models of equitable distribution of vaccines in international law” is an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, which will focus on how a vaccine might be fairly and equitably distributed around the world, if one is developed.

Although a vaccine is an integral part of every nation’s response to Covid-19, it is not yet clear how or whether this would be distributed fairly and equitably around the world, with previous pandemics highlighting the problems this can cause. One such case was the Swine Flu (H1N1) pandemic of 2009, where developing countries were reliant on donations from wealthy countries to gain access to the vaccine.

Launching the project, Dr. Mark Eccleston-Turner said: “Developing countries may not have access to a Covid-19 vaccine without some sort of a governance framework guiding international allocation being put in place. That is what has happened in previous pandemics – such as the 2009-H1N1 pandemic.

“Wealthy countries dominated procurement of pandemic influenza vaccine, and developing countries only got access to the vaccine much later on in the pandemic, when it is less effective, and in much smaller doses. This is poor public health, and it is poor multilateralism. It is morally wrong to think that someone has a stronger claim to a vaccine because they happen to live in a rich country.”

The project will culminate in an event in Geneva during the 2021 World Health Assembly, where the findings of the project will be presented to member states representatives, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and non-governmental organisations.