COVID 19 VACCINES
- 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.
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.
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/
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.”