One of the most discussed topics, viewed as the light at the end of the tunnel to many is when COVID-19 vaccine will become available. There are many candidates that have already reached phase 3 in clinical trials, meaning it is already being tested on healthy individuals.
Many are worried about the logistics of the vaccines once it becomes available, and a phenomena now known as "vaccine nationalism" is on the list of worries of many public health experts. According to experts, health workers and high risk individuals should be the first to be given the vaccine. However, high income countries will most likely be first on the list to receive the early doses of the vaccine leaving high risk people and health workers in poorer countries exposed to the virus.
Looking at past trends, HIV treatment became widely available in Africa, the continent with the highest prevalence of HIV, 7 years after revolutionizing HIV treatment in Western countries. Similarly, during the H1N1 pandemic, countries from the global north donated 10% of their vaccine stocks after securing enough for their populations.
One way to make sure that the vaccine will be distributed equitably is through a new agreement initiated by the WHO known as the Covid-19 vaccine global access facility (COVAX). This will encourage high income countries to be involved in the equitable distribution of the vaccine by reducing their risk, incase they bet on the wrong vaccine candidate they will still receive enough doses from the winning vaccine, without compromising the share of low income countries.
This is one way we can avoid a scenario where the new vaccine first doses are reserved for rich countries, leaving out high risk groups in poor countries who need the vaccine most. In a world where it has never been more evident how connected we all to each other, we can not expect to overcome this without an equitable plan that leaves no one behind.