“None of us is safe, until all of us are safe. Yet some countries are reportedly making side deals exclusively for their own populations. Such “vaccinationalism” is not only unfair, it is self-defeating.”
— UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Today, the world has secured a little over 10 billion doses of the ten approved COVID-19 vaccines. As of 5 February, the majority of the vaccines were available in just 10 countries that account for almost 60 percent of the global GDP, says the World Health Organization (WHO). Around 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, have yet to administer a single dose. Only one low-income country, Guinea, has received doses of the vaccine but has vaccinated about 25 people so far.
“Science is succeeding but solidarity is failing,” warned the Secretary-General who has made the response to COVID-19 and the equitable access to vaccines the utmost priority for the United Nations in 2021.
The COVAX Facility for Equal Access
The Secretary-General continues to reiterate the importance of the COVAX facility – the only international mechanism with the largest vaccine portfolio that was established to ensure the global pooled procurement of vaccines needed for equitable access.
Agreements may already be in place to secure more than two billion doses to cover at least 20 percent of the population of the 190 participating economies, many of them middle and low-income, but COVAX still needs $7.8 billion to procure and deliver the vaccines by the end of the year.
“We need manufacturers to step up their commitment to work with the COVAX facility and countries around the world, in particular the world’s leading economies, to ensure enough supply and fair distribution,” added Mr. Guterres.
Echoing his call, the head of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged countries to share excess doses “once they have finished vaccinating health workers and older people” and manufacturers to share their data and technology.
In early February, WHO and partners announced their plans to help governments that have signed up to the COVAX facility prepare their vaccine distribution programmes to protect their most at risk population. Through the facility, countries will receive details on the vaccines they will receive between now and the end of June.
Learn more about the status of all vaccines within WHO Emergency use Listing Procedure and the latest agreement between COVAX and Pfizer to expedite early availability of vaccines to lower-income countries.
A new global social media mobilization campaign, initiated by UNICEF, is asking people everywhere to be the living proof that vaccines are safe and effective. In January 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres kicked off the campaign after receiving his vaccination at the Adlai E. Stevenson High School in New York City Borough of The Bronx.
Holding up a V for Vaccinated sign, he expressed his gratitude “to everyone who has worked to safeguard communities during this pandemic.” He added that now we must get to work “to make sure the vaccine is available to everyone, everywhere.”
“Let’s give science the credit that it deserves and the trust that it deserves.”
— Melissa Fleming, UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communication
The head of Global Communications at the United Nations, Melissa Fleming, recently spoke to the Chief Medical Officer at WebMD about the “polluted” media environment and the critical role communications plays in tackling vaccine misinformation, and boosting vaccine equity and confidence.