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Non-conventional in English | Social Science Open Access Repository, Grey literature | ID: grc-747567


New daily record numbers of infections worldwide exacerbate concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on regions of the Global South. Weak health systems, vulnerable economies, and extreme inequalities threaten healthcare, livelihoods, and peace in many low- and middle-income countries. The risk of increasing infection rates remains imminent for all countries until a vaccine or medicine is available to everyone worldwide. While many low-income countries urgently need to "flatten the curve", rigid lockdown measures are difficult to impose in the vast informal sector and can mean a more imminent threat to lives and livelihoods by depriving millions of income and food. COVID-19 has already led to a world economic crisis through the breakdown of trade and rapidly increasing debts, and will only aggravate global inequalities even further. The key for slowing and eventually stopping the pandemic without lockdowns lies in the development of, and universal access to, effective drugs and vaccines, which are currently discussed on the highest political level as being "global public goods." An unprecedented initiative vis-à-vis the required collective action in global health is the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator bringing together many important stakeholders in global health. Whether stakeholders will meet their commitments on access is not clear yet, as a three-way conflict intensifies between those demanding access to health products as a global public good, pharmaceutical firms offering compromises but defending patent-based exclusive rights, and "vaccine nationalism" by individual states. This pandemic could be an opportunity to realise access to vaccines and medi-cines for all. The high-level public debate about medicines as a global public good is unprecedented, and there are promising examples of collective action. It remains to be seen whether national governments and pharmaceutical companies can be held accountable by the defenders of a global public good approach regarding their publicly voiced commitment to "access for all."