Illustrating the impact of commercial determinants of health on the global COVID-19 pandemic

Previous research on commercial determinants of health has primarily focused on their impact on non-communicable diseases. However, they also impact on infectious diseases and on the broader preconditions for health. The authors describe, through case studies in 16 countries, how commercial determinants of health were visible during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they may have influenced national responses and health outcomes. They use a comparative qualitative case study design in selected low- middle- and high-income countries that performed differently in COVID-19 health outcomes, and for which they had country experts to lead local analysis. They created a data collection framework and developed detailed case studies, including extensive grey and peer-reviewed literature. Themes were identified and explored using iterative rapid literature reviews.

The study found evidence of the influence of commercial determinants of health in the spread of COVID-19. This occurred through working conditions that exacerbated spread, including precarious, low-paid employment, use of migrant workers, procurement practices that limited the availability of protective goods and services such as personal protective equipment, and commercial actors lobbying against public health measures. Commercial determinants also influenced health outcomes by influencing vaccine availability and the health system response to COVID-19. Our findings contribute to determining the appropriate role of governments in governing for health, wellbeing, and equity, and regulating and addressing negative commercial determinants of health.

Access the full study, here.

Governance, Health in All Policies, Economy of Wellbeing, Health Impact Assessment, sustainable development
Belgium, Spain, United Kingdom

Back to Database