What has the past reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic taught us? We have seen that many low and middle-income countries (LMICs) still lack access to vaccines, and it seems little progress has been made in the last few months and year. This article discusses whether the current strategies, most notably, vaccine donations by the international community and the COVID-19 global access facility COVAX, offer meaningful solutions to tackle the problem. At the centre of our analysis, we compare the concepts of “donations” and “charity” with “vaccine equity” and the “empowerment” of poorer countries. We suggest that the achievement of fair global vaccine production requires that our global approach is supportive of the idea of empowerment. We, therefore, need structural reforms, which would most importantly include capacity building, to positively impact this goal and to take the interests of the global poor seriously.