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Journal of
Health Politics,
Policy and Law

Call for Papers

The Political Economy of Vaccines During the COVID-19 Pandemic

After the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the heavy losses suffered across the globe, the availability of multiple effective vaccines seemed like a miracle—a way to prevent wide-scale suffering by reducing the spread of the disease, curtailing its severity and, potentially, making normal economic activity much safer.

By the start of 2022, however, the picture of global vaccine production and distribution looked different than many commentators had expected. Initially, multilateral coordination by organizations such as the World Health Organization seemed to be a promising opportunity to achieve global vaccine equity; however, this fell short in many ways in regard to production and distribution. Across many dimensions of vaccine policy, from investing in research, supporting production, and procuring supplies to regulating safety and ensuring distribution, economic nationalism played an important role, resulting in a range of varied approaches to a common problem.

What are the political and economic factors that explain the global, regional, and local maldistribution of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic? What does the COVID-19 pandemic teach us about global health governance in regard to vaccines? And what can we learn from studying the political economy of vaccines that can inform our response to other global health problems that require collective action?

We invite paper submissions for a special issue of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law on the political economy of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic that will address these questions. Holly Jarman, Associate Professor of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan, Elize Massard da Fonseca, Associate Professor at the Sao Paulo School of Business Administration, and Elizabeth King, Associate Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan, will serve as Guest Editors for this special issue.


We seek studies that present original research, informed by theories of political economy, from a range of national and global settings. Papers may use a variety of methodological approaches but should center on core questions that engage with the development, production, regulation, procurement, and global distribution of vaccines. Prospective authors could, for example, focus on an inter- or supranational organization (e.g., COVAX, Gavi, WHO, European Union), analyze political relationships between governments and multinational corporations or researchers, examine the politics of vaccine approval or regulation in one country through a comparative political economy lens, or compare select countries’ policy choices.

Examples of potential research questions include:

● What explains why mechanisms for collective action around the acquisition and distribution of COVID vaccines (e.g., COVAX, the EU, the African Union) had the outcomes they did?

● What are the causes and consequences of countries’ (e.g., China, the United States, Russia, Brazil, India) varying approaches to COVID-19 vaccine diplomacy?

● What was the effect of the global intellectual property regime on COVID vaccine production, procurement, and distribution?

● Why did national policy choices, e.g., vaccine approval or eligibility, vary by country?

● How did anti-vaccination groups organize, fund, and influence vaccination campaigns?

Prospective authors should note that studies that center the vaccination of individuals or groups rather than vaccines as product (e.g., that study low or inequitable vaccine uptake at community or individual level, barriers faced by individuals or groups when accessing vaccines, or vaccine hesitancy) are out of scope for this special issue. Authors who are unsure whether their proposed topic is in scope for the special issue should contact the editors before submitting a proposal.


All scholars with relevant interests are invited to submit paper proposals, and we welcome submissions from authors who have yet to publish in JHPPL, particularly junior researchers. Senior scholars are encouraged to partner with junior colleagues when submitting a proposal. Proposals from interdisciplinary and international teams of authors are also encouraged.
Interested authors should submit a proposal of no more than one page by email to Jed Cohen, JHPPL’s managing editor, at by June 3, 2022. Proposals should contain a clear research question, explain how the question relates to existing theories of political economy, state the methodological approach to be used, and summarize likely findings. Length is less important than the proposal’s overall quality and fit with the theme of the issue. Proposals should list all authors and current affiliations. Please put “Political Economy of Vaccines” in the subject line of the email.
Submitted proposals will be reviewed by the editorial team. Authors of successful proposals will be invited to submit a full paper. We anticipate that, for authors selected to submit papers, the deadline for manuscripts will be October 15, 2022. All papers will undergo peer review. We expect that the special issue will be published online August 2023, with the issue appearing in print in January 2024.

JHPPL Vaccination politics call for papers