A small number of high- and middle-income nations and regions including the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU), China, and India account for the majority of COVID-19 vaccines administered thus far. The uneven global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has raised concerns and spurred demand for action to ensure equitable access, including growing calls to waive intellectual property protections. There are a number of challenges to scaling-up global access beyond intellectual property barriers, and addressing these challenges requires a multi-pronged, coordinated approach. Leadership from the US on safe, effective, and equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines is imperative.
In this paper, we present the scope of the global vaccine access challenge, and propose a complementary three-part US-led solution that: 1) increases and leverages funding for the global effort to advance vaccine access through COVAX; 2) undertakes coordinated bilateral and multilateral mechanisms to provide excess doses to countries in need; and 3) increases safe and reliable manufacturing and distribution capacity.