The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), of which ERS is a founding member, has published a statement to highlight COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and safety and call for urgent equitable access to vaccines in all countries.
The speed of development of effective vaccines for COVID-19 has been unprecedented, with several now widely available and in use. COVID-19 vaccination is one of the most pressing global issues. Vaccines are being distributed in more than 85 countries, with cumulatively more than 200 million doses administered globally. However, vaccination is predominantly occurring in high income settings while in many low- and middle-income countries, vaccination has not started or is occurring in very small numbers.
Priority for vaccination should be given to health workers, followed by those who are most vulnerable to develop severe disease and those who are most exposed to infection.
Inequities in global access to vaccination have exposed and worsened large disparities between countries. Countries with the lowest rates of vaccination are also those with the most fragile health systems, lack of infrastructure for widespread vaccination programs, lack of access to oxygen and other lifesaving interventions and more economically disadvantaged populations. Greater co-operation and collaboration between high-income countries, donor foundations, vaccine manufacturers and low and middle-income countries is needed to ensure access to vaccines on a not-for-profit basis, equitable distribution, and sustained programs to ensure vaccination.
“Vaccines against COVID-19 are a key complimentary intervention to bring the pandemic under control globally. For the health of everyone, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is urgently and quickly needed in all countries.” said Mark Cohen, President of FIRS.