World: Ensuring equal access to COVID-19 vaccines in conflict-affected countries

As countries struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s focus is on developing a vaccine. While the virus itself affects all countries and people without discrimination, containing the pandemic carries specific challenges in armed conflict situations. Once a vaccine does become available, how can we ensure that everyone – including people living in war zones – have equal access to it? And what are the obligations towards the healthcare professionals and facilities involved in administering them? In this post, ICRC legal advisor Alexander Breitegger looks to international humanitarian law for guidance. For months now, researchers around the globe have been desperately working to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. As I write this, more than 170 candidate vaccines have been tracked by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is a race against the clock, and a waiting game we have all been forced to take part in. When a vaccine does become available, we must learn from our mistakes from past health crises. We have seen greedy scrambles for access to therapies before, from HIV to H5NI influenza, bumping the most vulnerable countries -- those in the grips of armed conflict -- to the back of the queue. We have also seen how fear, misconceptions and mistrust, for example during the Ebola epidemic, can lead to stigmatization and violence against healthcare workers, exacerbating the burden on healthcare systems already overstretched from years of conflict and violence against healthcare providers. Read the full blog post here.

World: Ensuring equal access to COVID-19 vaccines in conflict-affected countries

As countries struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s focus is on developing a vaccine. While the virus itself affects all countries and people without discrimination, containing the pandemic carries specific challenges in armed conflict situations.

Once a vaccine does become available, how can we ensure that everyone – including people living in war zones – have equal access to it? And what are the obligations towards the healthcare professionals and facilities involved in administering them? In this post, ICRC legal advisor Alexander Breitegger looks to international humanitarian law for guidance.

For months now, researchers around the globe have been desperately working to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. As I write this, more than 170 candidate vaccines have been tracked by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is a race against the clock, and a waiting game we have all been forced to take part in.

When a vaccine does become available, we must learn from our mistakes from past health crises. We have seen greedy scrambles for access to therapies before, from HIV to H5NI influenza, bumping the most vulnerable countries -- those in the grips of armed conflict -- to the back of the queue. We have also seen how fear, misconceptions and mistrust, for example during the Ebola epidemic, can lead to stigmatization and violence against healthcare workers, exacerbating the burden on healthcare systems already overstretched from years of conflict and violence against healthcare providers.

Read the full blog post here.