How COVAX is working to make vaccine equity a reality

Everyone, everywhere can do their part in helping to vaccinate the world and end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spray Eshaghzay draws vaccine from a vial at a WHO-supported COVID-19 vaccinators’ training session at the office of the Agency for Assistance and Development of Afghanistan (AADA) in Herat, Afghanistan. © WHO / Andrew Quilty

Vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19, but a gap is growing between countries who can afford them and those that can’t. We can all be part of the solution with an international initiative called COVAX. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to buy COVID-19 vaccines for the world, starting with those who need them the most.

Nepal’s first consignment of COVID-19 vaccine doses via COVAX are unloaded at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on 7 March 2021. © WHO / Ajay Maharjan

COVAX is the vaccines ‘pillar’ of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a partnership focused on developing and distributing tests, treatments and vaccines, while building up health systems. It is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank and others.

COVAX aims to supply COVID-19 vaccines for at least 20% of the population of each participating country by delivering at least 2 billion doses in 2021. The participation of 92 low- and middle-income economies is supported by the COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC).

Saraswoti Devi Shrestha (left) receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal. © WHO / Uma Bista

The first international delivery of vaccines from the COVAX facility arrived in Ghana on 24 February 2021, and essential workers and other at-risk groups were prioritized in the roll-out starting 2 March.

“The probability of infecting my husband and children and my parents — who live nearby but I couldn’t go and visit — always felt high because I work directly with patients who are critically ill with COVID,” says Lindsay Dede Narh, a critical care nurse at Ghana East Municipal Hospital in Accra, Ghana. “Getting vaccinated really gives me peace of mind.”

Augustine Sagoe (left), chief laboratory scientist at Ghana Infectious Disease Centre, and Lindsay Dede Narh (right), a critical care nurse at Ghana East Municipal Hospital, hold vaccination cards after receiving a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine at Accra’s Ridge Hospital, Ghana, on 4 March 2021. © WHO / Nana Kofi Acquah

The COVID-19 pandemic affects people and communities worldwide in very personal ways. However, the virus knows no boundaries so people can only be free when everyone is protected from it. This is why WHO Foundation is launching the Go Give One campaign, where everyone, everywhere is encouraged to donate to buy a vaccine. Governments are giving money to COVAX, but not enough to end the pandemic.

Surgeon and oncologist Marie Dione Sacdalan receives COVID-19 vaccine at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Philippines on 29 March 2021. © WHO / Hannah Reyes Morales

WHO Foundation is calling on everyone to do their part to help vaccinate the world as part of an international campaign effort. In today’s interconnected world, an outbreak anywhere is a threat everywhere, but equitably protecting people with safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will help end the pandemic and bring us closer again.

A thank you card hangs on a wall in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Philippines. © WHO / Hannah Reyes Morales

“If we are going to realize this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritize vaccine supply through COVAX,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”

Together we can vaccinate millions of people around the world, protecting our loved ones and our communities, and freeing us all from COVID-19.

The theme of World Immunization Week 2021 is ‘vaccines bring us closer’. Learn more here.

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The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

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