The World Health Organisation (WHO) has rolled out the ‘Strategy to Achieve Global COVID-19 Vaccination by mid-2022’ (the Strategy), to end the two-track pandemic, as people in poorer countries continue to be at risk while those in richer nations enjoy greater protection.
The Organisation had set a target to vaccinate 10 percent of every country, economy and territory by the end of September however 56 countries had not been able to do so and many of these are from Africa and the Middle East region.
The new strategy of WHO sketches out a plan for attaining WHO’s target to vaccinate 40 percent of the population of every country by the end of this year and 70 percent by mid-2022.
“Science has played its part by delivering powerful, life-saving tools faster than for any outbreak in history. But the concentration of those tools in the hands of a few countries and companies has led to a global catastrophe, with the rich protected while the poor remain exposed to a deadly virus. We can still achieve the targets for this year and next, but it will take a level of political commitment, action and cooperation, beyond what we have seen to date.”
There should be a three-step approach to attain the vaccination targets. First, all older adults, health workers, and high-risk groups of all ages, in every country must be vaccinated, followed by the full adult age group globally and finally, extended vaccination of adolescents.
For vaccinating 70 percent of the global population 11 billion vaccine doses will be needed. By the end of September, over 6 billion doses had already been administered worldwide. With global vaccine production now at nearly 1.5 billion doses per month, there is enough vaccine from a supply perspective to achieve the global vaccination targets provided that there is equitable distribution of those doses.
“This is a costed, coordinated and credible path out of the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone, everywhere. 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,” said United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres.
Substantial financing has already been followed to procure most of the required vaccine doses for low- and lower-middle-income countries through COVAX, the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and bilateral contracts. Additional investments are also needed to secure the remaining vaccine doses for these countries as well as to support in-country delivery.