WHO launches global COVID vaccination strategy

COVAX shipment arrives in Ethiopia
COVAX shipment arrives in Ethiopia

UNICEF Ethiopia / Flickr cc

Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the launch of the Strategy to Achieve Global COVID-19 Vaccination by Mid-2022, with the goal of vaccinating 40% of every country's population against COVID-19 by the end of 2021 and 70% of each by mid-2022.

At a press briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, laid out the situation: Almost one-third of the world's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but low-income countries have received less than 0.5% of vaccines. Fifty-six countries hadn't reached 10% vaccination rates by the end of September "through no fault of their own." The continent of Africa is less than 5% vaccinated.

"This is not a supply problem; it's an allocation problem," Tedros said, noting that with global vaccine production at almost 1.5 billion doses per month, the WHO's plan is doable. "We can only achieve our targets if the countries and companies that control vaccine supply put contracts for COVAX and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust—or AVAT—first for deliveries and donated doses."

As part of the plan, Tedros called on countries with high vaccine coverage to swap vaccine delivery schedules with COVAX and AVAT, immediately fulfill their dose pledges, and allow free transportation of related materials and products across their borders. He asked vaccine manufacturers to prioritize COVAX and AVAT contracts, and companies and countries to share vaccine technology, know-how, and licenses. Countries receiving vaccines also need to ensure efficient capacity and distribution, he added, noting that development banks and institutions should support these efforts.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also said at the briefing that, while he pushed for a global vaccination plan in the past, thus far he has seen only vaccine hoarding, nationalism, and diplomacy. "Without a coordinated, equitable approach, a reduction of cases in any one country will not be sustained over time. For everyone’s sake, we must urgently bring all countries to a high level of vaccination coverage."

More global headlines

  • Sydney, Australia, has reached a 70% vaccination rate, its benchmark for easing lockdown, according to Reuters.

  • Brazil's health insurance regulator is investigating claims that a hospital chain tested hydroxychloroquine on elderly patients infected with COVID-19 without their knowledge, altered their health charts, and fired doctors who opposed the scheme, reports Reuters.

  • Moderna announced it will build an mRNA vaccine production facility in Africa; the site has not yet been selected.

  • Finland has joined Denmark and Sweden in pausing Moderna vaccinations in young men due to its link with myocarditis, according to Reuters.

  • The WHO has published a clinical case definition for long COVID-19, stating that it usually occurs 3 months from COVID-19 onset and lasts for at least 2 months.

  • The global total today was 236,760,977 cases, including 4,832,685 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker.

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