[imagesource: Leigh Prather]
There have been a few conspiracy theories doing the rounds about ‘Big Pharma‘ and the idea that once there’s a COVID-19 vaccine, countries like America will snap it up, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves.
I can see the basis for the ‘America’ theory. Back in June, the US bought up pretty much all the stocks for the three months that followed of one of the drugs proven to work against the coronavirus, remdesivir, leaving none for the UK, Europe, or most of the rest of the world.
If recent studies are anything to go by, however, there are a number of proposals under consideration that aim to ensure a fair and equal distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
After all, the only way to beat this is if the whole world gets it under control.
In it, the authors lay out a framework for distribution once the COVID-19 vaccine has been synthesised.
They’re calling it The Fair Priority Model, the outcome of which, should it be implemented, would be the following:
The Fair Priority Model specifies what a fair distribution of vaccines entails, giving content to their commitments. Moreover, acceptance of this common ethical framework will reduce duplication and waste, easing efforts at a fair distribution.
That, in turn, will enhance producers’ confidence that vaccines will be fairly allocated to benefit people, thereby motivating an increase in vaccine supply for international distribution.
Their model would be rolled out in three phases.
This phase aims to prevent deaths, with a focus on premature deaths, and other irreversible health impacts.
The long-term effects of the virus are only now becoming apparent and can include organ damage and neurological disorders that outlast the infection.
Priority will be given to countries that would reduce Standard Expected Years of Life Lost (SEYLL) per dose of vaccine.
SEYLL is a metric used to generate an estimate of the average years a person would have lived if he or she had not died prematurely.
Phase two takes into account how the pandemic indirectly harms health even for those who have not contracted the virus, by straining health care systems, raising mortality rates for common conditions, causing stress, and accelerating the spread of afflictions by hindering immunisations against other diseases.
Phase two also aims to address lingering and serious economic and social deprivations such as the closure of nonessential businesses and schools, which could lead to unemployment and poverty, and thus, poor health.
Priority will be given to countries that would reduce poverty with the help of the vaccine, as well as avert SEYLL per dose of vaccine.
Phase three is centred on reducing community transmission, thereby reducing the spread of the disease locally and across borders.
Implementing each phase of the model will involve determining the number of vaccines that each country receives. Those doses will be distributed internally according to which communities are most at risk, and where premature deaths can be prevented.
Priority would be given to countries with higher transmission rates.
These phases combined promise to ensure equal and fair distribution worldwide, based on where people are suffering the most.
Now, all we need is the vaccine.
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