Together against the coronavirus Global immunisation campaign offers a way out of the crisis
The main thing is to get vaccines into people's arms – not just in the capital cities but in remote villages too. That means setting up supply chains and providing transport boxes, refrigerators, syringes, disinfectant, and gloves. But it also means implementing information and education campaigns.
The now available COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time. However, it must also be said that the rich countries, which account for merely 16 per cent of the world's population, have secured two thirds of the worldwide supply of vaccines for themselves.
But everyone has the right to protection through immunisation against a potentially fatal infectious disease. Supporting poorer countries in realising this right is not only a precept of international solidarity but also in our own interests. It helps no one if the populations of only a few countries are fully immunised. That would mean that the virus could come back again at any time from other countries where that is not the case – and it could even come back as a mutant variant against which the available vaccines do not work.
We will either beat the pandemic worldwide or not at all
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that some 5.6 billion people will need to have been vaccinated twice before we see an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a view to achieving that aim as quickly as possible, the COVAX vaccine initiative was launched under the leadership of the WHO (External link), the Gavi vaccine alliance (External link) and the CEPI research alliance (External link) (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations). The objective of establishing COVAX was to organise equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines – also to low-income countries.
An integral element of the vaccine initiative is a vaccine platform, the COVAX Facility (External link). One of its first goals is to vaccinate at least 20 per cent of people living in the 92 poorest countries against COVID-19 by the end of the year. To achieve that goal, it is important to secure the financing for the COVAX Facility.
In view of the more than four million deaths so far and the massive economic damage caused by the pandemic, it would be both irresponsible and ill-advised to let a global immunisation campaign fail because of lack of funding.
Immunisation programmes start in Africa
Only a hundred days after immunisation began in Europe (that is from late February 2021 onwards), vaccines began being delivered to developing countries via COVAX. In Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines delivered with the help of the COVAX Facility have already been administered.
The COVAX Facility is making use of the tried and tested structures set up by the global immunisation alliance Gavi and its partners, which have been immunising children around the world against infectious diseases very successfully for many years.
In a first tranche, the following supplies will be made available through the COVAX Facility:
- almost 240 million doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine (some of which have, or will have, been manufactured by the Serum Institute of India under licence)
- and more than one million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The aim of the COVAX Facility is to supply 1.3 billion vaccine doses to the 92 poorest countries by the end of 2021. This means that about one fifth of the population of these countries can be immunised against COVID-19 – first and foremost high-risk groups and medical personnel who have contact with patients infected by COVID-19. For the latest information about the vaccine roll-out through the COVAX Facility, follow this link to the live delivery tracker (External link).
Backgroundinformation on COVAX
COVAX is the abbreviation of “COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access” initiative, which is seeking to ensure that all countries have fair and equal access to COVID-19 vaccines.
As part of this effort, COVAX is also supporting research into, and the development and production of a wide range of COVID-19 vaccine candidates. The COVAX initiative is being coordinated by the immunisation alliance Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the research alliance CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness). The COVAX Facility vaccine platform is part of the COVAX Initiative and is administered by the immunisation alliance Gavi.