HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Vaccine Apartheid: A Human Rights Analysis of COVID-19 Vaccine Inequity

Sarah Joseph (Griffith University), Gregory J. Dore (University of New South Wales), Vaccine Apartheid: A Human Rights Analysis of COVID-19 Vaccine Inequity, SSRN (2021):

In this paper, we analyse vaccine inequity under international human rights law. In Part 1, we introduce the currently available COVID-19 vaccines, before discussing causes and consequences of vaccine inequity, as well as current efforts to expand global vaccine access. In Part 2, we turn to explain the relevant, including extraterritorial, obligations of states regarding human rights to health, life, and equitable access to the benefits of technology. In light of those obligations, we assess the human rights compatibility of the following circumstances which hinder and facilitate vaccine access: embargoes on vaccines; national procurement and vaccine hoarding; and vaccine aid. Part 2 concludes with a short discussion of the possible human rights responsibilities of the entities that own the vaccines, multinational pharmaceutical companies. In Part 3, we analyse proposals to waive global intellectual property rights in respect of COVID-19 vaccines, and whether assent to such a waiver is demanded under international human rights law. Part 4 concludes this paper.

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