Adopted by the 73rd WMA General Assembly, Berlin, Germany, October 2022
SARS-COV-2 Pandemic caused more than 400 million cases and nearly 6 million deaths. It is quite comforting that vaccines that ensure protection from the disease have been produced, and data relating to the course of the pandemic in countries with high vaccination coverage is promising. 62.3% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Only 11.4% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. Deep inequalities in access to vaccines are still observed globally and failure to achieve collective immunity leads to the -further spread of new, more contagious and immunity-evading variants of the disease through mutation. Worldwide application of vaccines is of critical importance in terminating the Covid-19 pandemic. Every minute of delay in vaccinations means further spread of the disease at global scale and more lives lost. It is not sufficient to immunize all citizens in any given country; immunization has to reach a sufficient level in the world as a whole to effectively combat and control the pandemic.
The WMA urges all parties to:
1.Remove barriers to promote equity of access to COVID-19 vaccines that are globally proven to be safe and effective;
2. Work with governmental and appropriate regulatory bodies to encourage prioritization of equity when providing COVID-19 pandemic-related resources such as diagnostics, free medications, therapeutics, vaccines, raw materials for vaccine production, personal protective equipment, and/or financial support, and guarantee universal accessibility and free distribution;
3. Establish vaccination strategies that consider the specific peculiarities, challenges and vulnerabilities of each region, prioritising the most vulnerable people, including health professionals;
4. Insist on the importance of vaccination and take action to achieve maximum coverage and protect the population in need;
In this context,
5. Confront vaccine hesitancy by providing evidence-based guidance on the safety and necessity of vaccines;
6. Share of knowledge required for vaccine production to the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool created by WHO to ensure that vaccines are produced at as many centres as possible and sharing of this knowledge;
7. Allocate public funds to improve the capacity of vaccine production centres and increase the channels of safe distribution so as to ensure fair access, to provide equitable and efficient vaccine supply and distribution;
8. Design national vaccine programmes that take into account a global analysis rather than only national considerations;
9. Promote sustainable solutions to patent issues. This may include the temporary lifting of patents on COVID-19 vaccines under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and similar agreements to promote equity of access in global emergency situations, while ensuring fair compensation for the intellectual property of the patent holders if asked, global investment in manufacturing sites, training of personnel, quality control, and the transfer of knowledge, technology and manufacturing expertise;
10. Support WHO efforts and initiatives to increase production and distribution of therapeutics and vaccines necessary to combat COVID-19 and future pandemics in order to provide vaccine doses to low and middle-income countries with limited access, including:
- technological transfers relevant for vaccine production;
- other support, financial and otherwise, necessary to scale up global vaccine manufacturing; and
- measures that ensure the safety and efficacy of products manufactured by such means.
11. Call on governments and the United Nations to take all necessary measures to facilitate equitable access to vaccines throughout the world by supporting and promoting the sharing of all vaccine-related processes for combating pandemics (R&D, patenting, production, licensing, procurement and application).