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Article

Human Rights Watch highlights human rights responsibilities of companies working on COVID-19 vaccines

"Universal and Equitable Access to Covid-19 Vaccines, Testing, Treatments: Companies’ Human Rights Responsibilities", 11 February 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated profound inequality in people’s access to health care and the resources needed to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious disease...

...A recent study estimated that nearly a quarter of the world’s population may not have access to a Covid-19 vaccine until at least 2022...

...Vaccine roll-out figures have underscored concerns around inequitable access...

...A shortage of supply of Covid-19 medical products will continue to impair people’s enjoyment of their rights to life, health, and a decent standard of living...

Against this backdrop, this Q and A discusses some key questions about the human rights responsibilities of companies researching, developing, and manufacturing Covid-19 medical products. While the questions and answers, particularly around supply and intellectual property (IP), equitable access, and pricing, are relevant for all Covid-19 medical products, including testing and drugs, Human Rights Watch has focused on Covid-19 vaccines. The issues raised are limited to universal and equitable access. Companies involved in researching, developing, and manufacturing Covid-19 medical products have a host of responsibilities covering a broad range of rights issues, including freedom of association and collective bargaining, occupational health and safety, and overall working conditions of their employees and workers in their global supply chains...