COVID 19 VACCINES

Oct. 12, 2021

WHO, UN set out steps to meet world COVID vaccination targets 

  • Working with COVAX, African Vaccine Acquisition Trust and other partners – world can and must meet WHO targets to vaccinate 40% of the population of all countries by the end-2021 and 70% by mid-2022
  • Vaccine supply gaps to COVAX must be closed immediately for countries to reach the 40% year end target
  • United Nations Secretary-General and WHO Director-General call on countries and  manufacturers to make good on their commitments without further delays 

GENEVA, 7 October 2021 – The World Health Organization has today launched the Strategy to Achieve Global Covid-19 Vaccination by mid-2022  (the Strategy) to help bring an end to what has become a two-track pandemic:  people in poorer countries continue to be at risk while those in richer countries with high vaccination rates enjoy much greater protection.

WHO had set a target to vaccinate 10% of every country, economy and territory by the end of September but by that date 56 countries had not been able to do so, the vast majority of these are countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The new strategy outlines a plan for achieving WHO’s targets to vaccinate 40% of the population of every country by the end of this year and 70% by mid-2022.

“Science has played its part by delivering powerful, life-saving tools faster than for any outbreak in history,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But the concentration of those tools in the hands of a few countries and companies has led to a global catastrophe, with the rich protected while the poor remain exposed to a deadly virus. We can still achieve the targets for this year and next, but it will take a level of political commitment, action and cooperation, beyond what we have seen to date.”

“This is a costed, coordinated and credible path out of the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone, everywhere,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Without a coordinated, equitable approach, a reduction of cases in any one country will not be sustained over time. For everyone’s sake, we must urgently bring all countries to a high level of vaccination coverage.”

To achieve the global vaccination targets, there should be a three-step approach to vaccination, with all older adults, health workers, and high-risk groups of all ages, in every country vaccinated first, followed by the full adult age group in every country and lastly extended vaccination of adolescents.

Vaccinating 70% of the global population requires at least 11 billion vaccine doses.   By the end of September, just over 6 billion doses had already been administered worldwide.  With global vaccine production now at nearly 1.5 billion doses per month, there is sufficient vaccine from a supply perspective to achieve the global vaccination targets provided that there is equitable distribution of those doses. 

Substantial financing has already been invested to procure most of the required vaccine doses for low- and lower-middle-income countries through COVAX, the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and bilateral contracts.  There needs to be additional investment to secure the remaining vaccine doses for these countries as well as investment to support in-country delivery.  

The Strategy outlines the priority actions needed from the different actors to achieve the targets.

All Countries must:

  • Establish updated national COVID-19 vaccine targets and plans defining dose requirements to guide manufacturing investment and vaccine redistribution, and financial and programmatic resource needs to guide internal planning and external support;
  • Monitor vaccine demand and uptake carefully to rapidly adapt services and ensure continuity of vaccine supplies;
  • Commit to equitable distribution of vaccines in line with the WHO three-step approach;
  • Revise national vaccination strategies, policies and prioritization as needed to harness emerging evidence to maximize the impact of existing, modified and new vaccines.

Countries with high vaccine coverage must:

  • Swap vaccine delivery schedules, with COVAX and AVAT to enhance coverage in countries in need;
  • Fulfil and accelerate vaccine dose-sharing and donation commitments to COVAX in the near term, for those with existing pledges;
  • Establish new dose-sharing commitments to facilitate progress toward the 70% coverage target in every country.

Vaccine-producing countries must:

  • Allow the free cross-border flow of finished vaccines and raw materials;
  • Enable diversified vaccine production, both geographically and technologically, including through non-exclusive, and transparent licensing and sharing of know-how to allow transfer of technology and scale-up of manufacturing.  

COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers must:

  • Prioritize and fulfil COVAX and AVAT contracts as a matter of urgency;
  • Provide full transparency on the overall monthly production of COVID-19 vaccines and clear monthly schedules for supplies to COVAX, AVAT and low and low-middle income countries, to enable proper global and national-level planning and optimal use of scarce supplies;
  • Actively engage and work with countries that have high coverage and that have contracted high volumes of vaccines to allow the prioritization of COVAX and AVAT contracts, including through delivery schedule swaps, and facilitate rapid and early dose-sharing;
  • Commit to share know-how more rapidly, facilitate technology transfer and provide transparent non-exclusive voluntary licenses, to ensure that future vaccine supply is reliable, affordable, available, and deployed to every country in volumes and timing that achieves equitable access.

Civil Society, community organizations, and the private sector must:

  • Advocate locally, nationally and internationally for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, calling for and monitoring in particular the specific actions required of manufacturers, governments and multilateral actors;
  • Mobilize and empower communities, including through social media and community networks, to generate strong vaccine demand and address misinformation and misperceptions that contribute to vaccine hesitancy;
  • Provide support to the in-country delivery of vaccination programmes and services.

Global and regional multilateral development banks and institutions must:

  • Enable countries to more rapidly access the capital and external support needed for in-country vaccine delivery, prioritizing low-income settings and especially targeting support to the technical, logistics and human resources required;
  • Engage fully with COVAX/ACT-Accelerator and AVAT, with integrated operations and real-time sharing of information to truly support equitable access;
  • Support international procurement and allocation mechanisms to enable all countries to equitably, efficiently and rapidly achieve the COVID-19 vaccine targets;
  • Support vaccine distribution plans and a campaign to convey the life-saving importance of approved COVID-19 vaccinations.

For their part, WHO, Gavi, UNICEF and CEPI must work in close collaboration with World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, Africa CDC, AVAT, and other key partners to monitor progress, identify changes needed to resolve bottlenecks, coordinate information and prioritize actions; continue to co-lead and manage the COVAX Pillar of ACT-Accelerator; support the equitable allocation of available vaccines, particularly to low-, lower-middle-income and lagging countries; directly support countries to develop and sustain rapid, effective, high-quality COVID-19 vaccine delivery programmes that can achieve the global targets; address key research, policy, safety and regulatory issues that will optimize vaccine impact including effective supply, dosing and vaccine schedules, mixing and matching of products, protection against variants, and other issues; and monitor and report monthly on progress towards the global COVID-19 vaccination goals.

Note to Editors:

The Strategy to Achieve Global Covid-19 Vaccination by mid-2022 can be read in its entirety here

See also:

The Global COVID-19 Vaccination – Strategic Vision for 2022 Technical Document

Slide deck on the Strategy to Achieve Global Covid-19 Vaccination by mid-2022

Following the WHO declaration of novel coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020, the main global immunization partners developed a global COVID-19 vaccination strategy through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Vaccines Pillar (COVAX). The ACT-A prioritized strategy and budget can be read here. The 2022 Global Vaccination Strategy is intended to complement that strategy.

The immediate goal of the global COVID-19 vaccination strategy is to minimize deaths, severe disease and overall disease burden; curtail the health system impact; fully resume socio-economic activity, and reduce the risk of new variants.

The 2022 Global COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy is based on a technical analysis that established a Conceptual COVID-19 Goal Framework which specifies a sequence of socio-economic and health goals, which could be achieved with various levels of vaccination scope and other interventions. The Conceptual Goal Framework structures the technical analyses of vaccination requirements to achieve ever broader health, social and economic goals and builds upon WHO’s broader COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) first published in 2020 and subsequently updated in 2021. The SPRP’s strategic objectives inform and align with the health and socioeconomic dimensions of the Global COVID-19 Vaccine Strategic Vision Goal Framework.

 

 
Oct. 12, 2021

Outcomes of the regular meeting of the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization

At its regular meeting held from 4 to 8 October 2021, SAGE discussed critical topics relating to immunization globally, including the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines, polio eradication, influenza vaccine, Hepatitis E vaccine, and vaccine acceptance and uptake.  

Highlights from the meeting can be accessed here.  The full report will be published in the Weekly Epidemiological Record on 17 December 2021 (its wording is considered the final version).

Presentations made during the meeting will be available on the meeting webpage.

A virtual press conference on the outcomes of the SAGE meeting was held on 11 October for journalists accredited with UN Geneva.  The audio file can be downloaded here; it will also be made available on the UN Geneva press conferences webpage

A virtual press conference on the review of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine evidence to inform potential WHO recommendation on broad deployment of a malaria vaccine for children in sub-Saharan Africa was held on 6 October.  The audio file can be downloaded or accessed via weblink; here is the full video file and a video news package

The next regular meeting of SAGE will take place from 5 to 7 April 2022.

Agenda for the SAGE regular from 4 to 8 October 2021 included:

  • Global and Regional Reports, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and COVID-19 vaccination on immunization services and the update on COVID-19 Global Vaccine Strategy
  • Monitoring IA2030, including a summary of global immunization data, the IA2030 Monitoring and Evaluation baseline from 2019 and the impact of the pandemic in 2020, to provide insights into opportunities and challenges for the decade ahead
  • Updates on the current status of the polio eradication programme and the launch of the new polio eradication strategy
  • COVID-19 vaccines: a review of clinical and other data on Bharat Biotech COVID-19 vaccine and draft recommendations on its use in priority populations; review of evidence on the need for an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose in immunocompromised individuals; and the review of evidence on the need for an additional homologuous third dose for inactivated COVID-19 vaccines
  • Review of updated evidence on feasibility, impact and safety of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine and the proposed recommendations of the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme Advisory Group
  • Updates on influenza vaccine, in order to advise on the revision of the global policy on the use of seasonal influenza vaccines and the subsequent update of the WHO position paper on influenza vaccines
  • Updates on behavioural and social drivers of vaccine uptake
  • New data and recent developments on Hepatitis E vaccines

*************************

What is SAGE?

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization is the principal advisory group to WHO for vaccines and immunization. It is charged with advising WHO on overall global policies and strategies, ranging from vaccines and technology, research and development, to delivery of immunization and its linkages with other health interventions. SAGE is concerned not just with childhood vaccines and immunization, but all vaccine-preventable diseases.  Further information: https://www.whoint/immunization/policy/sage/en/

Aug. 31, 2021

WCC NEWS: WCC Vaccine Champions encourage churches’ leadership in promoting public health

WCC Vaccine Champions encourage churches’ leadership in promoting public health

The World Council of Churches Vaccine Champions shared their reflections on the status of vaccines in their home contexts, as well as the important role churches are playing in moving toward vaccine equity.
COVID-19 vaccination point in Porto Alegre, Brazil, March 2021. Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC
30 August 2021

Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen, general secretary of the Conference of European Churches, said that many churches in Europe have observed general COVID-related regulations in order to take measures to protect people’s health.

“Some have gone further, however, and I was particularly touched seeing some Anglican cathedrals offering space as vaccination centres while adding to the jabbing soothing organ music,” he said.

Rev. Dr Fidon Mwombeki, general secretary of the All Africa Conference Of Churches, said that more and more people in the region are rejecting conspiracy theories against vaccines and vaccination.  “There is more acceptance of the vaccines,” he said. “However, the biggest problem seems to be supply constraints.”

Mwombeki said that, in many African countries, there are few vaccine doses available. “When a country has vaccinated less than 1% of its population due to lack of resources and availability, talks of booster shots are a great demonstration of inequality and the illusion of the ‘global community,’ ” he said. “Churches have been on the forefront to convince people to accept the vaccine, by debunking wrong teachings, and practically providing vaccine services particularly in rural areas where their health facilities are based.”

In the United States, where COVID-19 cases are again rising, Jim Winkler, president and general secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, said variants and vaccine resistance are posing a big challenge.

“Many people continue to deny the reality of the pandemic, mistakenly believing they will not get sick, and are falling victim to the virus,” he said.

Winkler added that churches in the US are protecting lives in three ways. “Through interfaith and government efforts, churches are directly providing vaccine clinics in their buildings and providing vaccine outreach to local communities. As trusted messengers, church leaders are encouraging vaccinations in their congregations and communities, sharing their personal vaccination stories, and providing facts to counter vaccine disinformation,” he said. “Because the pandemic is a global problem, churches are also joining together to demand vaccine equity and the immediate supply of vaccines to everyone around the world."

Archbishop emeritus Dr Anders Wejryd, Sweden, WCC president for Europe, said that, in Sweden, the vaccination rates seem to be highest in areas that are more affluent.

“Among immigrants, vaccination rates are lower, especially among recent immigrants, probably because they are suspicious of authorities, and may also be suspicious of the vaccine itself,” said Wejryd. “But we have seen good examples of immigrant-led churches where the leaders are giving a good message of why people can trust this vaccine.”

Wejryd expressed his appreciation for churches helping people overcome vaccine hesitancy. “Churches are used as precincts for the vaccination, and that’s nice to see,” he said. “The main thing now is to get a fair spread of the vaccine over the world. All these variants and mutations will continue to go on when you don’t cover the world.”

Rev. Gloria Ulloa Alvarado, WCC president for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine has made it easier for her to personally accompany families who are going through painful situations of loss of life.

“From the churches, we have insisted on the need to take the vaccine to protect life,” she added. “We have provided food aid to families who have lost their jobs or who have increased the lack of economic income, to Venezuelan migrant families and we have continued to support peace signatories in Colombia.”

 
Aug. 31, 2021

 

 
Mar. 22, 2021

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 22 March 2021
21 March 2021
This Wednesday is World TB Day. An estimated 1.4 million fewer people received care for TB in 2020 compared with 2019, and we fear that more than half a million more people may have died.

The gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich countries, and the number of vaccines administered through COVAX is growing every day, and becoming more grotesque every day.

WHO is continuing to work day and night to find solutions to increase the production and equitable distribution of vaccines.

I’m pleased to announce that a shortlist has now been selected from 1200 entries for the WHO Health for All Film Festival. The films are available on the WHO YouTube channel.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

This Wednesday is World TB Day.

In the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe disruption to services for many diseases, including tuberculosis.

An estimated 1.4 million fewer people received care for TB in 2020 compared with 2019, and we fear that more than half a million more people may have died.

TB is preventable and treatable, but remains one of the world’s top infectious killers because too many people go undiagnosed.

Improved screening is essential to rapidly identify people with TB infection or disease, and connect them with care.

New guidance from WHO aims to help countries identify groups at highest risk of TB, so people can receive services for prevention and treatment.

===

In January, I said that the world was on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure unless urgent steps were taken to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines.

We have the means to avert this failure, but it’s shocking how little has been done to avert it.

The gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich countries, and the number of vaccines administered through COVAX is growing every single day, and becoming more grotesque every day.

Countries that are now vaccinating younger, healthy people at low risk of disease are doing so at the cost of the lives of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups in other countries.

The world’s poorest countries wonder whether rich countries really mean what they say when they talk about solidarity.

The inequitable distribution of vaccines is not just a moral outrage. It’s also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating.

Some countries are racing to vaccinate their entire populations while other countries have nothing. This may buy short-term security, but it’s a false sense of security.

The more transmission, the more variants. And the more variants that emerge, the more likely it is that they will evade vaccines.

And as long as the virus continues to circulate anywhere, people will continue to die, trade and travel will continue to be disrupted, and the economic recovery will be further delayed.

On Friday, WHO hosted a meeting of more than 800 experts on enhancing genomic sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus globally, to improve the monitoring of its evolution.

Knowing when, how and where the virus is evolving is vital information.

But it’s of limited use if countries do not work together to suppress transmission everywhere at the same time.

If countries won’t share vaccines for the right reasons, we appeal to them to do it out of self-interest.

There are some countries that have set a great example. The Republic of Korea, despite being a high-income country that could easily afford to buy vaccines through bilateral deals, has waited its turn for vaccines through COVAX.

WHO is continuing to work day and night to find solutions to increase the production and equitable distribution of vaccines.

I have had conversations with leaders from high-income countries that have many times more doses than they need, asking them to share doses through COVAX.

I’ve had conversations with leaders from lower-income countries, whose economies are suffering and who are asking when they will get vaccines.

And I’ve had conversations with executives from vaccine manufacturers about how to ramp up production.

Recently, for example, I spoke to the CEO of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, about the shared challenges we face in ramping up production and rolling out vaccines.

So far, AstraZeneca is the only company that has committed to not profiting from its COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic.

And so far, it’s the only vaccine developer that has made a significant contribution to vaccine equity, by licensing its technology to several other companies, including SK Bio in the Republic of Korea and the Serum Institute of India, which are producing more than 90% of the vaccines that have so far been distributed through COVAX.

We need more vaccine producers to follow this example and license their technology to other companies.

A year ago, Costa Rica and WHO launched the mechanism to do this, the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, or C-TAP, which promotes an open-science model, where licensing would occur in a non-exclusive, transparent manner to leverage as much manufacturing capacity as possible.

So far, C-TAP remains a highly promising but under-utilized tool.

WHO and our partners can design and advocate for solutions. But we need all countries and all manufacturers to work with us to make them happen.

On Friday, WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety concluded that the available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions following administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Today, AstraZeneca announced positive results from a trial of the vaccine among more than 32 thousand people in Chile, Peru and the United States.

The vaccine was 79% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100% effective in preventing hospitalization and death. No safety concerns were reported.

These data are further evidence that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective.

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that a shortlist has now been selected from 1200 entries for the WHO Health for All Film Festival.

The films are available on the WHO YouTube channel, and between now and the 10th of May we are inviting members of the public to watch them and make comments.

Our expert jury will select six winners in different categories, with the prizes to be awarded on the 13th of May, before our World Health Assembly.

Christian, back to you.

Feb. 7, 2021

Mayor Turner joins local, state and federal leaders to call for equity in state's COVID-19 vaccine supply distribution

Mayor Turner stands in unity with city council members, state legislators and federal leaders to call for equity in the states vaccine distribution program
HOUSTON - On Saturday, Mayor Sylvester Turner toured the Harris Health System's Settegast Community Health Clinic, where 600 high-risk and vulnerable people received the first shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine through a partnership with the Houston Health Department.

(click image above to view full news conference)

The mayor was joined by city council members, state lawmakers and federal leaders who called on the state to create a fair and equitable vaccine distribution plan that prioritizes minority and underserved communities.

"These individuals represent every level of government and communities throughout the city. We are all very much concerned about the disparity and the inequity in distribution," Mayor Turner said.

In Houston, 43 percent of vaccine recipients are Anglo, 21 percent Hispanic, 14 percent Asian, and 18 percent African American. Since the start of the global pandemic, the coronavirus has affected Hispanics and Blacks disproportionately.

Instead of opening new appointments, the health department will focus on people at the highest risk of severe illness and underserved communities during the week of February 8. The department also will schedule 5,728 people to receive a second dose of the vaccination.

"We are utilizing the limited supply we are getting to be more intentional and more directional," Mayor Turner said. '“For example, we have pulled away from the mass distribution sites which are good for numbers but not necessarily the best for equity.”

In the news: Mayor Turner, elected officials, call out racial inequality for vaccine distribution,

In the news: City and state leaders express frustration over COVID-19 vaccine ‘inequity’


The mayor and State Sen. Borris Miles announced they have written letters to Gov. Abbott demanding a change in the amount and frequency of vaccine supplies delivered to the city of Houston and Harris County. The mayor and Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia also sent letters to President Joe Biden asking the federal government to bypass the state and send the vaccine directly to local communities.

"We are the safety net," said Mayor Turner, who noted the city is providing supplies to local partners and federally qualified health cl