I am willing to risk my life so that vulnerable populations across the globe can be protected, but not to make pharma shareholders rich or to produce a vaccine only available to US citizens. The US decision to not join Covax, a multilateral effort to ensure that the vaccine is fairly distributed worldwide, places corporate greed and vaccine nationalism over the needs of people.
I cannot speak for other volunteers, but I suspect they might feel the same: I would refuse to participate in a human challenge trial if the eventual vaccine wasn’t made available to everyone, everywhere. And because vaccines are impossible without potential trial participants, we can demand a better vaccine process for everyone, not just for Covid-19, but for the future. We can refuse to risk our health unless a vaccine is accessible to everyone.
As it stands, Covax is deeply flawed. The plan currently provides universal vaccine access only to wealthy countries, lines the pockets of pharma executives, and dictates terms to poorer nations while falling short of providing the number of vaccines they need. Despite this, it is clear that we need international cooperation to prevent nationalism from raising the cost of a vaccine for everyone.