I believe all human lives are of equal value, and that it is our moral imperative to make sure life-saving interventions are distributed fairly across the world.”

Akash Gupta, MD

BOSTON—The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Global Health (CGH), along with more than 450 individuals from institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda, has published an open letter calling on United States President Joe Biden and leaders of the pharmaceutical industry to more equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the globe. At least 102 Harvard affiliates, 271 physicians and individuals from nine countries have signed the letter.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how connected the world is. The rapid development and production of vaccines over the past year offers a chance to move forward as a global community. However, the lack of equitable distribution threatens to turn this biotechnological achievement into a great moral and public health failing.

The global vaccine distribution process has been deeply inequitable in several ways:

  • 128 million vaccine doses were administered worldwide by mid-February; 75% were administered to residents of 10 high-income countries
  • 67 countries do not have any reported vaccinations, as of March 19, 2021
  • COVAX—the international taskforce created to secure and distribute COVID-19 vaccination doses among low- and middle-income countries—is severely underfunded; $22.9 billion short of its needs.

The open letter, drafted by CGH Executive Director Louise Ivers, MD, MPH, alongside Akash Gupta, MD; Jana Jarolimova, MD; and Jacob Rosenberg, MD, PhD, specifically targets the role U.S. political and pharmaceutical leaders can play in improving vaccine access. The letter calls for three things: increased vaccine production, improved support of global vaccine delivery efforts and provision of transparent and affordable global pricing.

“I believe all human lives are of equal value, and that it is our moral imperative to make sure life-saving interventions are distributed fairly across the world,” said Gupta. “With the emerging information about viral variants, it is clear that this pandemic will not truly end anywhere until it has ended everywhere, and an equitable global vaccine roll-out is the best way of moving to a brighter future for all.”

About the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health
The MGH Center for Global Health is driven by the belief that everyone, everywhere has a right to good health. We partner with diverse communities to exchange life-saving ideas, catalyze scientific discoveries, deliver compassionate care, and train the next generation of leaders in global health.

About the Massachusetts General Hospital
Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH Research Institute conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the nation, with an annual research budget of more than $1 billion and comprises more than 8,500 researchers working across more than 30 institutes, centers and departments. In August 2020 the MGH was named #6 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in its list of "America’s Best Hospitals."