Public health groups are lobbying countries to commit a portion of their Covid-19 vaccine supplies to a “humanitarian buffer” that would be used to inoculate people living in rebel-held territories, those in asylum-seeker camps and others unlikely to receive vaccinations from their governments.
The emergency stockpile is intended to act as a safety net to ensure the global effort to end the Covid-19 pandemic is not sabotaged by governments using vaccines as bargaining chip with restive populations, or simply denying it to some marginalised groups.
“In Syria there are a lot of internally displaced people who might end up in areas not controlled by the government, or they might be considered to be anti-government or pro-revolution,” said Alain Alsalhani, a vaccine pharmacist who works with Médecins Sans Frontières.
“There are also ethnic minorities or others who might be neglected, so typically in India’s Chhattisgarh state you have entire villages considered by the government to be pro-Maoist, and they don’t have access to any healthcare at all.”
The French government is understood to be taking the lead on rallying contributions to the buffer, with President Emmanuel Macron saying in a speech on [November 20] he hoped France and its European partners would donate a part of their doses to healthcare workers and others “who need it most, in the most fragile countries.”