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“Vaccine Distribution and Access Undermining the Human Right to Health”

Timothy Affonso

Timothy Andrew Affonso

Caribbean Social Justice Forum






The COVID-19 pandemic has affected most, if not, all aspects of human existence. Its non-discriminatory impact has resulted in ever-increasing strains on healthcare systems; burdens on countries’ economies and rising number of deaths worldwide. No State has been immune from the effects of the pandemic. In this vein, vaccine development and widespread distribution represents a panacea. With numerous pharmaceutical companies working with a common purpose, vaccine trials and approvals were obtained and signalled to the global community a possible end to the devastation being faced by the microscopic assassin known as the COVID-19 virus. However, despite existing human rights obligations grounded in facets of the right to health, the equitable distribution of vaccines has not materialised. In fact, the conduct of those who possess economic and political power demonstrates that the lives of their nationals are more deserving of protection than those of countries with fewer resources or political influence. The hoarding of vaccines and prioritisation of profit over parity by the most powerful States and pharmaceutical companies have relegated entire regions of the globe vaccine-less. This can be seen in the bilateral agreements between some countries and vaccine manufacturers which has seen the purchasing of vaccines in numbers that exceed the population of the countries while other countries still have no access to sufficient vaccines for the most vulnerable in their population. This article seeks to examine whether the international human rights framework imposes any obligation on States to facilitate the equitable distribution of vaccines and the concomitant right to equitable access to vaccines.



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