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Sunday, October 24th, 2021

IDSA, HIVSA call for U.S. leadership in global vaccine equity

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The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and its HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) announced that it supports the Biden Administration’s movements in making the COVID-19 vaccines accessible around the world, but said more could be done to achieve vaccine equity.

In a letter to the administration, the two organizations said they support the administration’s call for global commitments to control the pandemic, as well as the administration’s initial steps in donating vaccine doses and making financial contributions to COVAX — the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access initiative.

But the administration should accelerate its leadership in achieving vaccine equity in order to reach the administration’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the world’s population. Currently, the groups said, less than 1 percent of vaccines have been administered in low-income countries. Even though wealthy countries have committed to donating 1 billion doses, only 15 percent of those doses have reached low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

“Renewed commitments made at the summit during the United Nations General Assembly will be a critical step in strengthening access to COVID-19 vaccines in LMICs,” the groups said in their Sept. 22 letter. “Eighty-four percent of all COVID-19 vaccines globally have been administered in high- and upper-middle income countries, while only 0.3 percent have been administered in low-income countries — an inequity that is antithetical to achieving COVID-19 control globally and contradicts our moral obligation to a fair and just civil society that treats all as equals. The longer we wait to strengthen global vaccine equity, the more we allow for the development of increasingly dangerous variants that could evade existing vaccines, putting the hard-won gains we have made against the pandemic at home in danger.”

Both groups urged the administration to share the excess doses not needed for the U.S. population, and to support efforts to strengthen infrastructure that would enable vaccine manufacturing, distribution and administration in LMICs.

“Ensuring that vaccines are accessible to the global population better protects everyone and helps prevent virus mutations and potentially dangerous variants that hold the potential to evade current vaccines and undo the hard-won gains made in the U.S,” the groups said.