Many countries have significantly benefited from the rapid development and production of novel COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. However, gross inequities in the availability of these health products across different countries and regions have left much of the developing world without access to these vaccines. Supply levels for these products have not matched global demand, primarily because of limited global production capacity, the continuing emergence of new variants of concern, and the demand for vaccine booster doses in developed countries. Some developed countries have also procured many more vaccines than they need to vaccinate their populations, and transportation and supply chain limitations have limited the widespread distribution of these products. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the crucial role of trade, investment, research, and development in fighting the pandemic. Open trade in vaccines and other health product inputs, strong flows of capital, and the smooth transfer of technology and know-how are needed to enhance the availability and distribution of essential health products, such as vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
The objective of this Regional Conversation is to highlight the significance of trade, investment, and research and development in enabling equitable and affordable access to essential health products in Asia and the Pacific and the possibilities for regional cooperation to facilitate this access.
Some of the key questions that would be addressed at the regional conversation include the following:
- What regional policy options are available for strengthening connectivity and supply chains to increase access to essential health products?
- How can cooperation on investment, technology transfer, and fiscal measures play a role in securing access to essential health products?
- What logistics, planning and transport measures are needed at the ground level for rapid and equitable deployment of essential health products?
- What role can supply diversification play in ensuring access to health products?
- How can digital connectivity infrastructure play a role in ensuring deeper regional cooperation and more connected value chains for health products?
- What are key points of intersection between trade laws and policies and securing regional value chains for essential health products, and how can this be managed within international law?
- How can governments, the private sector and intergovernmental organisations each play a role in enhancing access to essential health products and securing regional value chains in these products?
- What are the lessons learnt from the pandemic in terms of trade, transport, investment and R&D policies and the role of regional cooperation in enabling better preparedness for future health shocks?
Read our blog which discusses the potential of regional collaboration in securing equal access to essential health products in Asia and the Pacific: Assessing Essential Health Products: Challenges but also new opportunities for regional cooperation