Covid-19 has given rise to many challenges, one of which is a global
vaccine distribution solution.
From a human rights perspective, this means how to get the COVID
vaccine to communities and peoples in developing countries quickly, safely, at
low or no cost without political-, class- or gender-discrimination.
But for corporations and the likes of the World Economic Forum (WEF)
and the Gates Foundation this challenge might be described as how to get the
COVID vaccine to communities and peoples in the developing world without
disrupting the global pharmaceutical market, with a mechanism that circumvents long
standing multilateral humanitarian relief systems while steering the vaccines
to preferred allies in the developing world.
The result is COVAX. And as a result, COVAX was not created
primarily to help fight Covid in the Global South.
COVAX is a multistakeholder group established as the vaccine
distribution arm of another multistakeholder body called the Access to COVID-19
Tools Accelerator (ACT). COVAX’s principal function is to handle the financing
of the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine.
It was designed to be more like a merchant bank, using capital
provided largely from governments, to shape the global vaccine preparation
industry and the Southern vaccine consumer market. It is designed like a
regular international trade association interested in establishing this vaccine
market based on a health care system where one is required to pay for health
and one without national medical approval and without manufacturer liability.
It is also built as a multistakeholder group operationally run by two other multistakeholder
groups to marginalise WHO and avoid public accountability in global governance
This report concentrates on the political and economic repercussions
on the global South and how COVID and the multistakeholder structure of COVAX
is driving a transformation of global governance.
Multistakeholder governance is not the way to govern vaccine
distribution, vaccine production, or the delivery of the vaccine to the peoples
around the globe.
Multistakeholderism is premised on marginalising governments, inserting
business interests directly into the global decision-making process, and
obfuscating accountability. There are no standards of responsibility,
obligation or liability for multistakeholder bodies. The multiple layers of the
bodies ‘overseeing’ the multistakeholder COVAX program obscures any moral
obligations, even while COVAX makes profound life decisions for hundreds of
Probably no other commercial product has been produced that in its
first years expects to have the entire world as its consumer base. COVAX as a
multistakeholder body provides a gathering spot for business interests which
otherwise may not be allowed to jointly plan marketing, productions,
investments, and distribution in what is for them a major evolving vaccine
global market. There is significant potential for commercial self-interest to
be injected inappropriately into Covax decisions.
This report is published jointly by Friends of the Earth
International and Transnational Institute.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Harris Gleckman is a senior fellow at the
Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts
Boston and Director of Benchmark Environmental Consulting. Gleckman has a PhD
in Sociology from Brandeis University. He was a staff member of the UN Centre on
Transnational Corporations, head of the NY office of the United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development, and an early member of the staff for the
2002 Monterey Conference on Financing for Development.
PHOTO: National COVID 19 Vaccine Introduction
Launching Program at Eka Kotebe Hospital Addis Ababa, March 13, 2021. UNICEF Ethiopia/2021/Nahom Tesfaye.