Fighting COVID-19 together Global immunisation campaign offers a way out of the crisis
The only way to overcome the current pandemic and to prevent future waves of infection is a global immunisation campaign. In order for it to be successful, a very large share of the world's population needs to be vaccinated. The now available vaccines were developed in record time. The rich countries, which account for merely 16 per cent of the world's population, have so far secured most of the worldwide supply of vaccines for themselves.
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.
Every person has the right to be immunised 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 is no good if the entire populations of only a few countries are vaccinated. That would mean that the virus could come back again at any time from other countries – and it could even come back in the form of variants that are resistant to the available vaccines.
Besides the global immunisation campaign, ensuring worldwide supply of antigen and PCR tests, therapeutics and protective equipment is also important for pandemic control.
We will either beat COVID-19 worldwide or not at all
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that some 5.6 billion people will need to be vaccinated several times 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 was to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines – also to low-income countries. The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, has now also joined the vaccine alliance. In close collaboration with Gavi and WHO, UNICEF has taken on the distribution of vaccines in recipient countries.
By October 2022, more than 1.79 billion vaccine doses had been delivered through COVAX to a total of 146 poor countries and regions. To achieve further progress, it is important to secure the financing for the COVAX Facility (External link).
In view of the several 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.
Backgroundinformation on COVAX
COVAX is the abbreviation of “COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access”, an initiative that seeks to ensure that all countries have fair and equitable 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 Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the research alliance CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations). The COVAX Facility vaccine platform is part of the COVAX Initiative and is administered by Gavi, in partnership with UNICEF.
In addition, COVAX supports recipient countries in implementing vaccine campaigns and improving vaccine logistics. In 2021, Germany provided 180 million euros for these purposes.
In 2022, it has made available a total of 850 million euros under its “Last Mile Initiative” to support vaccine logistics and campaigns on the ground. Most of this support, 626 million euros, is provided to multilateral organisations as part of the Access to COVID-19-Tools-Accelerator (ACT-A). A total of 224 million euros are used for bilateral projects to provide direct support to vaccine campaigns and logistics.
As at: 14/10/2022