WHO Campaigns for Global COVID-19 Vaccine Equity

April 21, 2021 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, Former ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

As part of the #VaccinEquity campaign, WHO partnered with UNICEF and other industry leaders to improve access to vaccines. The campaign has two components: the COVAX pillar (https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator/covax) and the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator (https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator/about).  

The COVAX pillar is designed to accelerate vaccine development and manufacturing. It promotes global collaboration (https://www.path.org/articles/what-covax/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwgtWDBhDZARIsADEKwgPh46B3sPOWGx8LbOzszl7XarBPjkl_kWn-jq1jh9FsSgS0KwUhZDcaAnmFEALw_wcB) on the research and development of a wide range of vaccine candidates.

As of April 8, 2021, COVAX has delivered more than 38 million doses (https://www.who.int/news/item/08-04-2021-covax-reaches-over-100-economies-42-days-after-first-international-delivery) to more than 100 economies across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers: AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, and the Serum Institute of India. Sixty-one of those countries are among the 92 lower-middle income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (https://www.gavi.org/gavi-covax-amc).

COVAX is expected to deliver at least two billion vaccine doses in 2021, and WHO will continue to diversify its portfolio (https://www.gavi.org/news/media-room/united-states-host-launch-event-gavi-covax-amc-2021-investment-opportunity) to meet the goal.

COVAX is supported by donations through the ACT Accelerator (https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator/about), which brings together governments, scientists, businesses, civil societies, philanthropists, and global health organizations. As of April 13, 2021, pledges reached $11 billion to support COVAX efforts (https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator/funding-tracker).

“COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD, WHO director-general, said (https://www.who.int/news/item/08-04-2021-covax-reaches-over-100-economies-42-days-after-first-international-delivery). “If we are going to realize this great opportunity, countries, producers, and the international system must come together to prioritize vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”

Nurses are the largest group of healthcare providers to contract COVID-19 (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/nurses-account-for-largest-group-of-healthcare-providers-with-covid-19-infections), although 30% of nurses said they have not received a COVID-19 vaccine (https://www.nursingworld.org/news/news-releases/2021/leading-nursing-organizations-partner-to-launch-covid-19-vaccine-information-campaign-for-nurses/), and a quarter of that percentage was still undecided about getting vaccinated. Sign WHO’s vaccine equity declaration (https://www.who.int/campaigns/annual-theme/year-of-health-and-care-workers-2021/vaccine-equity-declaration) to accelerate available vaccines for healthcare workers across the planet and encourage fellow nurses (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/ana-launches-nurse-specific-covid-19-vaccine-campaign) and loved ones (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/how-public-health-can-stop-the-pandemic-hint-its-covid-19-vaccination) in your area to educate themselves on the importance of vaccines in ending the pandemic.

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