The Rockefeller Foundation Launches Action Plan for Increasing Global Covid-19 Vaccination Efforts
NEW YORK | June 1, 2021 – Despite tireless efforts by health care workers and major breakthroughs with Covid-19 vaccines, more than 10,000 people a day around the world are still dying from Covid-19. The continued spread of the virus in unvaccinated populations threatens to keep the global economy choked for the foreseeable future and poses threats to current progress in containing the pandemic. To stop the spread of this pandemic, all countries need equal access to Covid-19 vaccination. A new report by The Rockefeller Foundation and key collaborators, One for All: An Updated Action Plan for Global Covid-19 Vaccination, is the first to present financing models that could drive the global vaccination effort forward.
More than 80 percent of shots have gone into arms in high- and upper-middle-income countries, leaving the pandemic to spread unchecked in lower-income countries and the world at risk of viral variants and reignited pandemic spread. But that inequity and the lack of a well-resourced global vaccination campaign extends beyond a health crisis. Our interconnected global economy stands to lose as much as US$9.2 trillion this year if governments fail to ensure developing economies have access to Covid-19 vaccines, and at least half of that loss would fall on advanced economies according to the International Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation.
“Nearly everyone agrees that we must vaccinate the world as soon as possible or risk wasting our collective work, sacrifice and investment so far,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “We have proven mechanisms in place to implement global vaccination through COVAX and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The G7 and other wealthy countries must act now to close the financing gap and enable COVAX to get the job done.”
In many countries with access to Covid-19 vaccines, communities are opening up slowly, but in countries without the ability to buy large amounts of vaccines, it’s a very different story. Nearly 50 percent of North Americans and more than 25 percent of Europeans have been vaccinated, in stark contrast to about 14 percent of South Americans, 5 percent of Asians, and 1.2 percent of Africans
“The longer vaccination efforts are delayed in developing countries, the greater the risk Covid-19 never goes away and that new variants will continue to emerge,” said Dr. Bruce Gellin, Chief of Global Public Health Strategy, The Rockefeller Foundation. “No one is safe from Covid-19 until everyone is safe and that means being vaccinated. The goal of any vaccination plan must be to achieve sufficient immunity in a population.”
This concern was recognized early on when it became apparent that to end the pandemic, everyone in the world needs access to Covid-19 vaccination in addition to equitable access to diagnostics and treatments.
The Rockefeller Foundation’s Updated Action Plan for Global Covid-19 Vaccination offers a five-point action plan to scale equitable vaccination around the world:
- Share more sooner – Many countries with access to affordable vaccines have a surplus and should share with countries who do not have easy access to them.
- Make more quicker – Despite a surplus, the world needs far more vaccines and fast. An immediate investment in expanding capacity could pay dividends within six months.
- Build in the global South – Countries with production capacities should invest quickly in technology transfer to expand manufacturing capacity around the world. Countries without production capacity should be identified for assistance in capacity building long-term.
- Support delivery systems – Building the support systems to deliver and administer vaccines in developing countries must be fast-tracked and established in a way that benefits public health for decades to come.
- Close the financing gap – The G7 and other donors need to step up so that COVAX closes its US$ 9.3B funding gap by June 2nd allowing it to unlock an additional 1.8 billion doses of vaccine. Securing 1.8 billion doses would enable 92 low- and middle-income countries to protect nearly 30% of their population or roughly half the entire adult population in those countries. In addition to funding COVAX, all of the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) needs to be fully funded through 2022.
Closing the Financing Gap
In April 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) and key partners launched the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). ACT-A contains four pillars to drive equitable access: one for testing, one for treatment, one focused on vaccines, and a health systems connector that ensures the tools reach the right places once they arrive in country.
The vaccine portion of ACT-A, also known as COVAX, drives the research, development, and manufacturing of a wide range of Covid-19 vaccine candidates with the ability to negotiate pricing. The initiative’s initial aim is to have two billion doses available by the end of 2021 to cover frontline workers and high-risk populations in low- and middle-income countries. Unfortunately, COVAX’s efforts to vaccinate 92 low- and middle-income countries is currently underfunded by $9.3 billion. In fact, all four pillars of ACT-A face a US$18.5 billion shortfall for the full breadth of the pandemic response.
Funding COVAX this year is critical to slowing the pandemic and thus, is the focus of this action plan. COVAX needs US$9.3 billion to lock in 1.8 billion vaccine doses to reach the 92 countries relying on its supplies to vaccinate their populations. Securing 1.8 million doses would enable the countries to protect nearly 30 percent of the population or roughly half the adult population in those countries. On June 2nd, Japan will host a Summit to try to raise the necessary support. Short-term sources of lending for countries are not likely to move the needle in terms of vaccination, and therefore the G7 and other donors must step to the plate.
Once funding for 2021 is secured, the G7 and the G20 need to be ready to step up to complete funding of vaccinations for all countries as well as to expand Covid-19 testing and treatment capacities across the rest of ACT-A to fully end this pandemic.
“Anything less will not only condemn millions in the developing world to untimely deaths but will allow Covid-19 variants to flourish with a high potential to rebound on the United States and other advanced economies, creating a never-ending cycle of pandemic surges causing economic shutdowns,” said Dr. Rick Bright, Senior Vice President, Pandemic Prevention and Response at The Rockefeller Foundation.
Financing Solutions for 2022
The funding gap to scale ACT-A is considerably larger in 2022 than it was in 2021, an estimated $49 billion for 92 low- and middle-income countries. To fund this future gap the G7 and its constituents should push for innovative options to finance broader pandemic response efforts. The report provides a menu of options for the IMF and its shareholders to consider to deploy special drawing rights (SDRs), a form of reserve currency, to fund ACT-A and its various pillars starting in 2022. In particular, the report calls on wealthy nations to reallocate no less than $100 billion in SDRs to support pandemic response in the developing world. With the right leadership and shareholder support within the IMF, this innovation could pave the way for more sustainable financing of this and future pandemics.
This report follows The Rockefeller Foundation’s Action Plan for Financing Global Vaccination and Sustainable Growth which was released in April 2021. In the coming months, the Foundation will continue the series with detailed plans to revitalize global growth by deploying a larger, multilateral financing effort focused on sustainability, and climate.