SDG target: Support the research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and noncommunicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries; provide access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health; and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all.
In the 1970s, vaccinations reached only about 5 percent of the world’s children; by 2019, they reached over 80 percent and prevented more than 2 million deaths. That progress is now at risk. Because of COVID-19, vaccination rates are going back to 1990s levels. In some cases, these vaccinations are simply delayed, and kids can “catch up” later without much consequence. However, some infections, such as measles, spread easily, and even short-term disruptions can lead to immediate increases in illness and death.
Highly affected countries are innovating to regain this ground quickly. For example, combining health campaigns (for vaccines, deworming pills, bed nets, etc.) so that communities receive these services all at the same time instead of one by one would increase coverage while minimizing exposure during the pandemic. Innovations like this can help health systems reach the estimated 14 million children who didn’t receive even the most basic vaccines in 2019 and the millions more at risk of being left behind in 2020 because of COVID-19.