Toronto – Toronto’s Medical Officer Health Dr. Eileen de Villa joins other public health leaders in a joint call on G20 nations to take immediate action on global COVID-19 vaccine equity. Dr. de Villa signed a joint letter with public health leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Spain, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay urging some of the world’s largest economies to ensure vaccination access in the Global South. The initiative was spearheaded by New York City’s Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi
As of February 2022, only 10 per cent of the population in low-income countries have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine compared to nearly 80 per cent in high-income countries. Toronto has delivered more than 6.8 million doses of vaccine, and nearly 90 per cent of Toronto residents have received at least two doses of vaccine.
Equity has been at the centre of Toronto’s response to COVID-19. In December 2020, on the recommendation of Toronto Public Health (TPH), City Council approved TOSupports: COVID-19 Equity Action Plan, recognizing that a comprehensive approach to reducing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous, Black, and racialized Torontonians, including newcomers, must be central to the COVID-19 emergency response, to COVID-19 immunization, and to Toronto’s recovery and rebuild efforts. Today, by participating as a signatory on this call to action by G20 leaders, TPH is bringing the call for an equitable response to COVID-19 to the global context.
The letter will be published this week in 12 major international publications – including the Globe and Mail – and outlines specific actions that the G20 can take now to prevent further suffering and needless death:
- Increase access to accurate information about vaccination and prevent the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines by:
- Holding social media/tech companies and anti-vaccination groups accountable for the spread of misinformation
- Prioritizing partnerships with trusted community groups to build vaccine confidence, support navigation to vaccination sites, and counter misinformation
- Investing in national and global public health messaging efforts to encourage vaccination
- Increase equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines by:
- Ensuring that countries in the Global South have appropriate vaccine infrastructure, particularly around cold chain maintenance and that donations do not create an unfair burden based on expiration dates
- Adjusting G20 country vaccine donations to COVAX based on demand in recipient countries
- Committing to producing at least 15 billion mRNA doses in the next six months, including investing in manufacturing capacity in the Global South
- Following through on previous commitments to share intellectual property and expertise to enable more Global South countries to manufacture vaccines at home
- Publicly voicing support for the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver
Dr. de Villa encourages other public health leaders from around the world to join in support of the global call to action by filling out a form on the New York City Health Department website
“We will not bring an end to this pandemic until our global community has equal access to the protection afforded by COVID-19 vaccines. In Toronto, we know that vaccines are critical in reducing residents’ risk of serious outcomes from a COVID-19 infection. We also know that we must keep equity at the forefront of our decision-making and planning. I am calling on G20 countries to reduce barriers globally to these life-saving vaccines. – Dr Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health