We have major bottlenecks with producing the vaccines, but the WHO say that it doesn't have to be like this. There are many companies that could have produced them if they had been authorized to do so. There are things we can do to ease the bottlenecks right now and we could hugely increase vaccine production capacity a few months from now through technology transfer.

We are getting scary stories claiming that though the US / UK / Israel / EU / UAE etc will be vaccinated fast, reaching all adults well before the summer, that the rest of the world will not be vaccinated until 2024 or some such date. But the world has already secured enough doses to fully vaccinate 5.45 billion people in 2021 with many more on their way. The reason we have so many doses available for 2021 is that wealthy countries have pre-ordered enough doses for all their citizens many times over. They did this as a precaution, expecting most vaccines to fail. So they pre-ordered enough doses for much of their population from many vaccine manufacturers simultaneously. They now have a huge excess of doses because remarkably all the front line vaccines assessed so far succeeded and were all safe and effective.

So why are people saying that the rest of the world won’t be vaccinated until 2024 if we already have doses pre-ordered enough to vaccinate 5.45 billion in 2021?

What is happening is that right now the majority of vaccines are going into the arms of people in wealthy countries. This leaves few of the early doses for anyone else, so the vaccine roll out is very slow in other countries.

However the wealthy countries will vaccinate all adults who wants a vaccine well before the summer, and meanwhile the doses the world can produce are already over ten million per day and increasing, and will be far higher by the summer. If all or nearly all the vaccines in clinical trials are approved, as seems likely by the track record so far, we have 21 billion doses on their way in 2021. That is enough for everyone to be fully vaccinated at least once, and two billion people to be vaccinated twice over so long as we fund the manufacture of these vaccines, and distribute the vaccines equitably.

If we do this right, and if the remaining vaccines are as successful as the ones approved so far, we could end the year with everyone vaccinated fully at least once ,and the wealthy countries finishing their second vaccination of the year (say, in the fall to guard against new variants).

By the time we reach 2022, we have the capacity projected already, even without technology transfer, to vaccinate everyone in the world at least every three months.

So the future is bright so long as we keep funding the vaccines. Meanwhile though there is an acute shortage of vaccines in most countries. While the US / EU / UK etc fully vaccinate all their adult population well before summer, COVAX will only be able to vaccinate 3.3% of the population of the weaker economies in the same timescale.

But that’s just with the existing capacity. With technology transfer, there are many countries worldwide with the capacity to make these vaccines. Over the last week or so they have been pleading to the world in the WHO press briefings, to let them make the vaccines themselves. But they don’t have the intellectual property rights to make the vaccines and they don't have the detailed know-how to make these specific vaccines. If they were given permission to make them and they were told the technical details of how to make these specific vaccines, then the world could make many more of the vaccine doses.

This is why the WHO issued a call to action in a recent statement. Covid-19: A call for global vaccine equity. They are also talking about invoking a provision in the World Trade Organization rules called TRIPS for compulsory licensing during an emergency - having tried everything else with no success to enable technology transfer..

AstraZeneca are doing this already as part of their agreement with Oxford university. But so far they are the only vaccine company to do it

This is something we can change. These vaccines were made with tax payer dollars underwriting all risks. It normally costs around a billion dollars to make a new vaccine and a company risks losing all of that if it fails and has to recoup their investment. But these vaccines were developed by the vaccine companies through public funding at no financial risk to themselves.

The public surely have a say in what happens to them, and what is happening right now is unethical, illogical, and harms the wealthy countries too, economically and adding to the risk of new variants. This is not rational, and I think few in our populations would agree to what is being done in their name if they fully understood what was happening. I think few of the politicians fully understand either.

Please share this with others to try to spread awareness, and explain it in your own way if you are an influencer or journalist. Be sure to use reliable sources and link to reliable sources such as the WHO when you do so. Thanks!

I talk about this article here:

(click to watch on Youtube)


The vaccines per day are increasing, with more vaccinated every day, but remain low compared to the world population.

. COVID-19 Data Explorer

From that graphic, the world is currently giving vaccine doses to 14 out of every 10,000 people every day. Some of those are single shot vaccines, but if they were all vaccines that require two shots, it would take 3.9 years to vaccinate everyone, i.e. towards the end of 2024. Taking account of the single dose vaccines it would be a little faster but it works out at some time in 2024 if the number of doses per day is stuck at the levels reached in March.

However, the number of doses every day has doubled since the end of February in less than a month. If the doses per day doubles again to 28 per 10,000 that will mean we are vaccinating enough to vaccinate everyone in under two years at two doses each and another doubling to 52 a day would mean we can do it all in less than a year.

The world already has pre-orders that manufacturers have promised to do enough for 10.6 billion doses. So that’s enough for 37 doses per day and it works out to be enough to fully vaccinate 5.45 billion people (see later) so that’s enough to fully vaccinate at least 19 people in every 10,000 every day.

Taking account of the lower doses per day so far in the year, and that we have only vaccinated 491 million from the cumulative doses, with 285 days left that means that if we use all the pre-orders, the doses per day is going to increase to at least 45 doses per day and of course likely more than that since it won’t instantly jump to 45 doses per day - it should be well above 50 doses per day later in the year.

So - that’s a simple way of looking at it.


Another way to look at it, COVAX has secured enough pre-orders to fully vaccinate more than a quarter (27%) of the populations of countries in the alliance, in 2021.

Many of those countries are ready to roll out the vaccine but are not yet able to vaccinate many because COVAX is at the back of the queue for many of the manufacturers so those doses are coming later.

Once the wealthier countries are fully vaccinated, the vaccines will start flowing more equitably to the other countries and they will start to catch up.

The US alone has excess doses enough for about 1.6 billion people as pre-orders. Once the entire US is vaccinated they will release those doses for other countries.

Even if the US decides to vaccinate everyone in the country a second time, it still will have enough left over doses for around 1.3 billion people in other countries.

The US has enough doses to fully vaccinate nearly a billion extra people even if they fully vaccinate every one in the US three times this year.

This graph is for both secured and optioned doses. Some of these are not yet approved but so far all the vaccines that have entered phase 3 were approved. The Johnson and Johnson one needs just one dose most of the others need two doses.

It’s clear that the US, and EU together have secured enough doses together, to more than double the COVAX supply even after they have vaccinated everyone in their countries.

The vaccine market dashboard is here:

Vaccine market dashboard


Here I have converted the total doses into numbers of people by taking account of the Jansen and Jansen vaccine which requires only one dose. Based on that:

  • COVAX has secured enough doses for 2021 for 2.03 billion people.

Some of those depend on more funding to purchase them but they have secured the doses if they can pay for them.

  • US has secured enough for 1.96 billion people.

The US could fully vaccinate everyone in the US in 2021 twice and still have enough doses to spare to vaccinate 1.3 billion people outside the US in 2021.

  • EU has secured enough for 1.495 billion people.

The EU could fully vaccinate everyone in the EU twice over in 2021 and still have spare capacity for 600 million people in the rest of the world.

  • World total - enough to vaccinate 5.45 billion people in 2021 leaving only 2.45 billion unvaccinated.

If the US and EU fully vaccinate everyone twice over, their excess doses are still enough to increase the COVAX total from 2.03 billion to 3.63 billion people in the rest of the world.

Even if a billion people are fully vaccinated twice, with a second full vaccination in the fall, the world total becomes 4.95 billion out of 7.9 billion or 62.7% of the world population fully vaccinated at least once in 2021.

But we can make many more than these advance orders suggest.

  • Total vaccine capacity if all the vaccines are approved - 11.15 billion.

That’s enough to fully vaccinate the world population of 7.9 billion and then fully vaccinate 2.25 billion people a second time - e.g. a second vaccination in the fall for new variants.


COVAX has 3.56 billion doses, 500 million from Jansen and Jansen only single doses so that's enough for 1.53 + 0.5 = 2.03 billion people. Some of those depend on more funding to secure them.

The US has 3.46 billion doses, 0.4 billion Jansen so that's enough for 1.56 billion + 0.4 billion = 1.96 billion people.

EU has 2.79 billion doses, again 0.4 billion for Jansen so that's enough for 1.195 + 0.4 = 1.495 billion people.

Total secured by all countries10.6 billion doses, of those 1.3 billion from Jansen, enough to vaccinate 8.3/2 + 1.3 = 5.45 billion

Total capacity is 21 billion doses for 2021 - that's including vaccines that are still in phase 3 but all the vaccines in phase 3 so far have been approved.

That’s enough for at least 11.15 billion (21–1.3)/2 + 1.3 (more than that since some of the other vaccines are single dose)

Now look at the data for 2022 and the capacity is 37.2 billion. That’s enough for two doses each for 4.7 times the entire world population.

This assumes that all the remaining vaccines pass clinical trial, but so far they all have, the only failures have been in phase 1 - most of them because there are so many vaccines already and they decided to withdraw and focus their efforts on other things. You can read the details here:

. Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker

So, as long as we fund it:

  • In 2022 we will have vaccine capacity to fully vaccinate the entire world population every quarter

It's only funding stands in the way not technology.

The UK, and Canada, they have agreed to donate their excess doses to other countries

. Covid vaccines: Boris Johnson pledges surplus to poorer countries at G7

Biden said the same though not giving details.

“If we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world.”

. With a surplus looming, how should the US use excess vaccines?

We should be doing much more - but by the end of 2021 there will be a huge surplus of doses if all the vaccines are approved.

That is just based on what we can already project. But we can hugely boost this.


It will benefit everyone to vaccinate everyone fast. In this scenario, the world economy recovers faster, and the better health care and fewer dying in the weaker economies leads to a better world for everyone. They are the people who grow the food and make many products that many of the wealthier countries depend on. If they are healthy too we all benefit.

It also means that holiday destinations, conferences, travel is safer because worldwide there won’t be raging epidemics in the weaker economies. Also very importantly, it means less risk of new variants arising. And less risk of the virus jumping into animal reservoirs like the mink, and now, mice too.


Many countries actually have the technological capability to make vaccines and they have people who are plenty clever enough to make them, well educated experts who could do the work. But they don’t have the know-how to make these specific vaccines. They also lack the intellectual property rights to make them.

That is why the World Health Organization is asking for a temporary suspension of intellectual property rights for covid vaccines and drugs. There is actually a special provision to do this, the “TRIPS agreement”. But it is rarely used. As Dr Tedros Adhanom WHO’s director general put it recently:

… and fourth, many countries with vaccine manufacturing capacity can start producing their own vaccines by waiving intellectual property rights, as provided for in the TRIPS agreement.

Those provisions are there for use in emergencies. If now is not a time to use them, then when? This is unprecedented time, and WHO believes that this is a time to trigger that provision and waive patent rights.

We thank South Africa and India for their proposal to the World Trade Organization to waive patents on medical products for COVID-19 until the end of this unprecedented pandemic.

. WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 5 March 2021

This is the fourth of four ways we can increase vaccine production rapidly that the WHO have identified.

(click to watch on Youtube)

You can read the declaration here

Covid-19: A call for global vaccine equity

I will summarize some of what they say.

They are also asking the US, UK to do a transfer of knowledge to let the world produce many more vaccines in 2021. They say many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America can expand vaccine production in months if the technology is available.

This would make a huge difference. By summer 2021, the US should have finished vaccinating its entire adult population. By then COVAX will vaccinate only 3.3% of the population in the weaker economies. They hope to provide vaccines for perhaps up to 27% by the end of 2021 if all goes according to plan.

Without a significant change, it’s 2023. before 85 countries have the vaccines widely available.

In Africa many hospitals have no vaccines for health workers though overwhelmed by COVID19.

They give the example of the Durban Declaration where leading scientists and public health experts called on world leaders to share effective treatments for AIDS in this way. They did do this eventually but the response was so slow that millions died of AIDS before the medicine got to them that was already saving lives in the wealthier countries.

They say that we can’t repeat this. We must remove this artificial scarcity.

They point out that much of the vaccine development was publicly funded. Billions of dollars from the UK, US, Germany etc went into these vaccines, taking away the risk that a manufacturer usually has developing a new vaccine - it was all paid for up-front.

They say that it is time to use all the legal and public health tools to get them to the people who need them.

They are asking the

  • The US to immediately fund urgent renovation and expansion of factories in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and incentivize Moderna, J & J and Pfizer to share the knowledge of how to produce the vaccines with the rest of the world - which they developed with significant public funding.
  • European and other countries to do the same.
  • COVAX partners to agree that vaccinating 3% of the world population in the first half of 2021 and 20% by the end is not acceptable or sufficient. They need COVAX to back a global push to do all this, including the TRIPS waver.

The conclusion is:

In a world where there are enormous inequalities COVID vaccinations offer us the opportunity to provide everyone globally, regardless of income, race, or nationality, immunological equity to be protected from SARS-CoV-2.

The covid-19 pandemic will not be over for us until it is over for everyone.


This includes a special provision called TRIPS to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights.

What they are talking about here is the TRIPS agreement.

  • In emergency situations such as a pandemic, under World Trade Organization Rules, countries can grant themselves a compulsory license to make patented drugs.

They must give fair remuneration to patent owner but don't need permission, They can also export it to others who grant themselves compulsory licenses. Compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals and TRIPS

This is a provision under the World Trade Organization called TRIPS. Most countries are members of the WTO - the ones shown as green in this map.

Bangladesh is already producing Remdesivir under this arrangement, and as a least developed country they don’t need to pay anything to Gilead.

However although technically any country could do this, could declare that they will do compulsory licensing under TRIPS - in practice they don’t because when countries try, the developed countries retaliate. The drug companies can withhold other drugs from them, the developed countries can threaten trade sanctions, and drug companies can also take out -legal cases against them such as patent infringement lawsuits in their domestic legal system.

Here are some examples from the past (from this paper)

"After Thailand issued a compulsory license for Abbott’s HIV drug, Kaletra, Abbott stated it would not sell certain drugs in Thailand and withdrew seven new drug applications from Thailand."

"Threat of trade sanctions by the United States, which is Thailand’s biggest export market, forced Thailand to stop producing a generic version of the HIV drug, didanosine, and amend its domestic laws to restrict compulsory licenses and parallel importation"

"Indian generic manufacturers Cipla and Natco face separate patent infringement lawsuits in the Delhi High Court by Bayer Pharmaceuticals for its patented cancer drug Nexavar"

With that last example, Bayer lost their legal case.

This is why there are calls for a global waver. The US, EU, Canada, US so far oppose this waver. South Africa and India are leading in the proposal to put it in place.

US Civil society groups, lawmakers press Biden to support India's TRIPS waiver proposal on Covid-19 vaccines's


This is an example I mentioned yesterday. This is the obituary of Professor James Gita Hakim, a specialist on HIV and foremost heart specialist at the university of Zimbabwe, who died in of COVID on 26th January;

Professor James Gita Hakim, HIV specialist, Foremost heart specialist at University of Zimbabwe

Died 26th January of COVID

Never offered vaccination against COVID

"He has left a void that will be so difficult to fill"

: Obituary: Professor James Gita Hakim

This man shouldn’t have had to die. We had vaccines for him. In storage, some of it not even going into people’s arms. Him and many others like him.

Just by sharing a percentage of our vaccine doses from the wealthier countries, we could have vaccinated all the health workers and doctors in Africa.

In Zimbabwe in 2018 (latest WHO data) there were 2.1 doctors per 10,000 in Zimbabwe.

. Medical doctors (per 10 000 population)

With a population of 14.65 million that’s a little over 3000 doctors.

Just a few thousand doses would have made a huge difference to them, given early.

Africa already have so few doctors for their population compared to Europe and the US. That those 3000 doctors are unvaccinated when we are already vaccinating everyone in their 60s - I got my vaccine at about the same time he died aged 66. I am almost zero risk - you don’t get COVID over the internet. So, I was able to do that.

But he couldn’t. His job was to work with people with COVID and he put his life at risk and he died of COVID.

It’s just not right. Of course we keep vaccinate everyone in the UK / US / EU but we need other countries to vaccinate too.

As Dr Mike Ryan of the WHO put it:

(click to watch on Youtube)

Vaccines are a major thing. We don't know for sure yet if they're going to completely stop transmission, but what we do know is that they stop people dying. But we cannot have a situation where frontline workers, health workers, risking their lives every day, and the most vulnerable people are not accessing vaccine.

If we reach a situation in the developed world where perfectly healthy people have been vaccinated and those front-line workers and vulnerable people are not, it is not fair it is simply not fair.

Unless we start to bring all countries out of this, we won't recover together. There will be long-term economic impacts if we leave countries behind. We're all in this together. We've seen things over the last number of years that scare us all for the future. This pandemic, climate change, racism, authoritarianism. We simply need to now start doing the things that turn the tide on this.

This is one of the first opportunities we have this century to send a signal to the future that this will be a fairer world. We will share more, we will do more together to make our planet and our environment and our populations healthy.

This is also not sensible even from own interest, the damage to the health system and economy in Africa will impact on the world economy - and the countries that can’t vaccinate also are places for the variants to spread as it takes them longer to get it under control.


France is going to donate 5% of its vaccine doses to poorer countries and is asking the EU, UK and USA to do the same.

. France to donate 5% of its vaccine doses to poorer countries

US has a stockpile of 10s of million AstraZeneca vaccines for approval a few weeks from now.

. FDA official: US AstraZeneca stockpile not in danger of expiring

However, the US will "loan" 2.5 million doses of AstraZeneca to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada. Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia L. Fudge, March 18, 2021 | The White House

I.e. it’s going to give them some of their doses, in return for a promise to give doses back to the US later on when the US needs them.

It is ~1 month before US authorizes them for its own citizens. This will vaccinate 2% more of Mexico's population (currently at 3.67%)

. COVID-19 Data Explorer

India has been a much better example from the get go. Even though it has still not vaccinated more than a fraction of a percent, it gives half of its doses to its neighbours like Bangladesh.

You can see that here, Bangladesh, which depends on doses given to it by India is being vaccinated at the same rate as India. None of the vaccine nationalism there.

India gives half its doses to neighbours like Bangladesh and China and Russia have both given many doses to other countries, but this is the first time that the US has done this - or Europe or the UK indeed.

India is a good example here, it gives away half of its doses to its neighbours such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It is doing that even well before it vaccinated all its frontline workers and the most at risk.

. India sends Covishield vaccines to Mauritius, Seychelles, Myanmar

You can see that here, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka actually have a higher percentage vaccinated than India itself, although they are depending on free doses from India for their vaccinations.

You can see that here, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka actually have a higher percentage vaccinated than India itself, although they are depending on free doses from India for their vaccinations.

. COVID-19 Data Explorer

If only other countries were as generous as India.

China and Russia are also doing this.

With China it makes a lot of sense. There is almost no remaining COVID transmission within China. All its outbreaks start with imported cases from other countries. So the best way to make China itself safe is to help other countries to vaccinate as fast as possible and so reduce the cases in China.

This also helps other countries to control the virus, and to stop their variants too.

China can’t do much within China itself to stop imported cases. Vaccinating within China will do next to nothing to stop this pandemic. So China needs to export nearly all its vaccines for optimal use. Also many in China don’t want to get vaccinated, not because of vaccine hesitancy, they trust their government’s vaccines, it’s because their risk is just about zero because China has eliminated the virus except for very occasional outbreaks quickly stopped.

So for instance they have given a million doses to Pakistan.

. Pakistan receives second batch of 500,000 vaccines from China

This is a story in Global Times, which is Chinese run propaganda, they say that they are donating doses to Africa, to the Phillipines etc.

. Update: Chinese vaccines donated to 53 developing countries, exported to 27 nations

This is a better source:

China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press. With just four of China’s many vaccine makers claiming they are able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world’s population will end up inoculated not with the fancy Western vaccines boasting headline-grabbing efficacy rates, but with China’s humble, traditionally made shots.


China has said it is supplying “vaccine aid” to 53 countries and exports to 27, but it rejected a request by the AP for the list.
. Chinese vaccines sweep much of the world, despite concerns

By "traditionally made" they just mean an inactivated whole vaccine. That type of vaccine may well end up being more protective against the variants. That's for Sinopharm and Sinovac. While Cansino is made the same way as the Oxford vaccine.

More details here with maps of the countries each one they exported to

. Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker

But this doesn't say which ones they donated vaccines to or gave early vaccines to.

China are exporting many vaccines for sure and giving away some of them but it's hard to get exact numbers.

There is much talk in the UK about “soft diplomacy” criticizing these countries for using their vaccines as an influence on the world.

Whether they are doing it out of an altruistic wish to help other countries, or being sensible and protecting the rest of the world to protect themselves - or diplomatic - what’s to stop the UK doing the same? Even for the same reasons?

The EU, UK and the USA have given huge donations to COVAX.

But under pressure to vaccinate at home, they have not managed to give the actual doses in the same way.

It’s understandable that the first priority is to protect your own vulnerable, elderly and health workers, but after that then it’s time to think about other countries - and note that India was generous right from the start when only a fraction of a percent of its population was vaccinated.


Here the UK and the US show up as two of the top contributors. The UK government has provided $734m (£548m) and the US pledged $4bn (£2.93bn) in December

Covax has raised $6bn (£4.3bn), so you see that the US actually provided two thirds of the COVAX doses.

This is great. Though the scheme says it needs at least another $2bn (£1.4bn) to meet its target for 2021. The rest are optional doses for now. It has the doses secured, but only as options and can’t yet pay for them.

One of President Biden's first acts in office was to sign up the US to Covax.

. Covax: How will Covid vaccines be shared around the world?

So - yes they are all doing something. India, China, Russia, donated vaccines early on. The UK, US, EU donated finance.

However - the weaker economies could make their own vaccines they would be able to make far more vaccines, and at essentially no cost to the developed countries.

The result would be a world that is much more able to make vaccines in the future too. A world where it is much easier to stop future pandemics and indeed to eliminate diseases too. A world with fewer diseases circulating is surely a better world for everyone.

Perhaps I can also add - if this is NOT the solution - then what IS the solution? With the wealthier countries vaccinating millions of their citizens a day - what method will lead to the same happening in the rest of the world, in the first half of 2021 instead of the second half, only after most of the richer countries are fully vaccinated?


  1. Patent holder still has rights over the product including right to be paid compensation
  2. Countries are free to decide for themselves what counts as a national emergency as grounds for granting a compulsory license
  3. Countries can buy cheaper versions of the product made in other countries if they can’t make the product themselves - the producing country also has to issue a compulsory order in this case.
  4. The license only lasts for the duration of the emergency and in the region affected, and the patent holder can continue to produce,
  5. The mechanism covers pharmaceutical products, including medicines, vaccines and diagnostics, needed to fight an epidemic.

There I’m paraphrasing parts of this post on the WTO website about TRIPS:

They must give fair remuneration to patent owner but don't need permission, They can also export it to others who grant themselves compulsory licenses. Compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals and TRIPS


The COVID vaccines have been a great scientific success, and now it's time to turn then into an ethical, logistical, practical and economic success. Many countries worldwide have the technology and the ability to make these vaccines, but they need permission, and transfer of detailed knowhow of how to make these specific vaccines. AstraZeneca have already done this and have committed to make no profit from the vaccine during the pandemic as part of their agreement with Oxford University. As a result, manufacturers in India and South Korea are already making millions of doses of their vaccine, and will be making billions of doses for the world, and will be joined by manufacturers in Brazil, South Africa, Japan etc.

None of the other vaccine companies are doing this yet. The wealthy countries used public funds from the tax payer to develop the vaccines. The vaccine companies like Moderna, J & J, Pfizer, Novavax took no significant financial risk to develop the vaccines. These companies would still have made a profit from the arrangements if none of their vaccines had worked.

India donate half their own doses with neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - this is in addition to ones they export to fulfill pre-orders. France is sharing 5% or 1 in 20 of its early doses and is asking other European countries to do the same.

It is of course a priority for any country to vaccinate all their most vulnerable, elderly and frontline workers especially doctors. However, after that, to donate 1 in 20 doses to the weaker economies like France did is surely a minimum.

This makes sense. The vaccines are also effective in stopping transmission. By vaccinating the world fast we help countries stop community spread. Every new case is another opportunity for the virus to develop new variants.

We already have three variants of concern, first identified in Brazil, the UK, and South Africa. They are all more transmissible, and the variant identified in South Africa has started to evade the AstraZeneca vaccine, and has also developed the new capability to infect unmodified mice. This opens up the possibility that the virus as it evolves and transmits worldwide may find new animal reservoirs in those countries and could become like Yellow fever, a virus that often jumps back to humans from other animals.

This is not out of our control. We can stop this happening.

Stopping the pandemic worldwide stops new variants that

  • transmit faster
  • evade the vaccines
  • can jump back to more animal reservoirs

It also affects the world economy. A country that is fighting the pandemic and has to go into frequent lockdowns is not going to recover from the recession so quickly and its recovery may be delayed for a long time. The world is so connected this impacts us all worldwide.

We also need to protect the vulnerable and the medical workers worldwide, not just in our country. A few thousand of the over 28 million vaccinations a week in the UK, EU and USA would make a huge difference to a country like Zimbabwe with only around 7000 doctors for the entire country.

Let’s do this. For us in the wealthy countries, our governments used tax payer’s dollars to make these vaccines. It is to the benefit of us too, as well as the rest of the world,. to use these dollars to vaccinate the whole world at once, not just us.

Please - if any of you reading this are good at communication, try to explain this to your readers and followers. I don’t think many people would support this, if they truly understood what was happening and our governments represent the people, and they will listen if public opinion changes.

We have moved on hugely since the time of the AIDS pandemic but we aren’t there quite yet and we can do this at almost no cost to the wealthier countries, by empowering the weaker economies to make the same vaccines we are making. Either through TRIPS or by incentivizing the vaccine companies to follow the example of AstraZeneca to make their technology available to manufacturers worldwide for the duration of the pandemic.

This is the fourth of four approaches to increase vaccine supply that Dr Tedros describe here

  1. To connect companies that produce vaccines with ones that can do "fill and finish" as for the agreement between Johnson and Johnson and Merck in the USA. The WHO can provide a match-making service to help achieve this.
  2. bilateral technology transfer through voluntary licensing from a company that owns the patents to another company who can produce them. AstraZeneca has done this, transferring the technology for its vaccine to the Serum institute in India and SK bio in South Korea.
  3. Coordinated technology transfer with universities and manufacturers licensing their vaccines through a global mechanism co-ordinated by WHO who would also facilitate training of staff and coordinate investments in infrastructure. This provides more transparency and a more coherent global approach. It would increase production capacity for this pandemic and for future pandemics as well as for routine immunization programs. The WHO did this already for H1N1 in the mid 200s
  4. Invoking TRIPS to waive intellectual property rights.

(click to watch on Youtube)

As Dr Tedros said:

Those provisions are there for use in emergencies. If now is not a time to use them, then when? This is unprecedented time, and WHO believes that this is a time to trigger that provision and waive patent rights.

Or we could add - if not TRIPS - let's ask our governments, what is YOUR solution?

We need to get the governments of the wealthier countries to start talking about this as a matter of great urgency. The world will be hugely better as a place for us all to live in, at the end of 2021, if the weaker economies are empowered to make their own vaccines.


As Dr Mike Ryan says, if we follow the example of Australia, and add vaccine equity as well, we can make this pandemic history.

(click to watch on Youtube)

As the WHO said in one of their earlier Social Media Q/As, we can all be super heroes - we already have practical solutions we can use to bring down this pandemic quickly. We have a tool kit full of these, not magical but practical solutions we can apply right now, and now we have vaccination too, to add to our toolkit.

COVID-19 TOOLBOX - Face coverings, Contact tracing, Vaccination [when ready], Hand Hygiene, Quarantine, Mass Testing, Physical distancing, Stay Informed.

#DoItAll - Not magic - Practical

Spiderman graphic from here

See also