WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and a group of global health leaders issued an urgent call for vaccine equity globally and in Africa in particular. The leaders stressed that the worst pandemic in the last hundred years will not end unless and until, there is genuine global cooperation on vaccine supply and access.
They also reiterated the WHO’s global vaccination target for 70% of the population of all countries to be vaccinated by mid- 2022. The press conference followed two days of meetings among the leaders, with Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive Officer of CEPI joining the meetings as well.
WHO’s targets are to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by September, at least 40% by the end of the year, and 70% globally by the middle of next year. These are the critical milestones we must reach together to end the pandemic.
Almost 90% of high-income countries have now reached the 10% target, and more than 70% have reached the 40% target. Not a single low-income country has reached either target.
Globally, 5.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered, but 80% of those are in high- and upper-middle income countries.
High-income countries have now administered almost 100 doses for every 100 people. Meanwhile, low-income countries have only been able to give 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply.
The world should spare no effort to increase vaccine supply for lower-income countries: this can be done by removing all the barriers to scaling up manufacturing including waiving IP, freeing up supply chains and technology transfer. As part of these efforts, in June, WHO and COVAX partners announced the first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, to be set up in South Africa.
High-income countries have promised to donate more than 1 billion doses, but less than 15% of those doses have materialized and manufacturers have promised to prioritize COVAX and low-income countries.
The supply through COVAX and other sources will increase substantially in the coming months of this year. Countries need to prepare for this ramp up of available doses, for example with microplanning, expanded cold chain equipment, logistics, funding, and trained staff in place.
COVAX has shipped more than 236.6 million doses to 139 participants as of 6th September 2021. Some 41 participants started their first campaigns thanks to COVAX.
Safe and effective vaccines alone cannot solve the pandemic: Robust surveillance supported by rapid diagnostics, early clinical care and life- saving therapeutics, provided by well-trained health workers who are able to work in safe conditions. Public health and social measures are also vital to end the pandemic and accelerate global recovery.