After more than 2.5 million deaths and widespread economic devastation, finally, the world has a shot of hope: multiple, effective COVID-19 vaccines. But as wealthy countries race to inoculate their populations, the majority of poor countries have yet to administer a single dose.
Enter COVAX, the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access initiative. COVAX is a coalition of organizations — from the World Health Organization, to Gavi, to the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness and their key implementation partner UNICEF — that is working to ensure that vaccines are distributed equitably across all nations, rich and poor. It's secured almost 3.6 billion vaccine doses for distribution this year, and as of this morning, has shipped just under 30 million to 50 countries — the majority low- and middle-income countries.
As you can imagine, equitable global procurement, allocation, and delivery of vaccines is a tricky endeavor. Which is why I'm thrilled that today we have Gian Gandhi to translate for us the key questions and challenges. Gian is a health economist and the COVAX Coordinator for UNICEF, in which capacity he coordinates the COVID-19 vaccine supply response across 100 principally low- and middle-income countries.
Gian and I recorded this conversation two weeks ago, so some of the numbers we discuss have since grown. But the crux of our conversation — about the genesis of COVAX, the dangers of vaccine nationalism, the challenges in last-mile delivery, and the role of different stakeholders, from pharma companies to ordinary citizens, in pressing for equity — is more relevant than ever.
To learn more about COVAX, and check out its latest updates, visit Gavi's page on the partnership here.
For an interactive vaccine market dashboard, with up-to-date information on the procurement and delivery of vaccines to countries worldwide, visit this page here.
Show your support for fair and equal global access to COVID-19 vaccines, as part of the UN's #OnlyTogether campaign, on social media.
And learn more about Civic Rx at civic-rx.org.