As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, global calls for achieving COVID-19 vaccine equity are increasing. Vaccine equity is a simple concept: it is the belief that all people should have equal access to vaccines. Inequitable access to COVID-19 vaccines leaves developing nations helpless against the virus. Moreover, inequitable access has allowed new deadlier variants of the virus to emerge and spread globally.
According to the World Bank Group, as of November 15, 2021, 72.8% of the population in high-income countries received a COVID-19 vaccine. This is a harsh difference from the mere 4.2% of the population in low-income countries. Luckily, several global organizations have initiated various efforts to help make COVID-19 vaccine equity a reality.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a leader in global health initiatives. Its COVID-19 vaccine equity campaign is a roadmap to achieve vaccine equity. This roadmap sets the goal to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to at least 40% of the residents in every country by the end of 2021. It sets a second goal to vaccinate 70% of the global population by mid-2022. WHO is calling for countries and companies that control vaccine supplies to donate and contract with COVAX and The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to get the vaccines where they are most needed.
WHO also believes that individual efforts matter. It launched its GoGiveOne fundraising initiative to allow individual efforts to directly aid the vaccine equity campaign through crowdfunding. A donation of $6 amounts to one vaccine.
Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity
The Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity is a collaborative effort that the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the University of Oxford launched with support across the U.N. It is a part of the SDG 3 Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All.
This initiative works towards global COVID-19 vaccine equity by sharing the latest data on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. It also provides socioeconomic data to demonstrate why the acceleration of global vaccination is critical. The Dashboard shows how a faster rollout not only saves more lives but also supports a speedier pandemic recovery. Moreover, it presents and highlights important vaccine equity policies and uses these to help guide legislative change. Finally, the Dashboard aids in educating the public about COVID-19 vaccine equity through free resources and statistics.
Only organizations can directly participate in the Dashboard. Nevertheless, individuals have a significant part to play. Raising awareness and increasing knowledge about COVID-19 vaccine equity is the Dashboard’s primary goal.
African Vaccine Acquisition Trust
The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) is a global effort that strives for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the African continent. To combat the looming vaccine inequality, in August 2020, a group of 10 people from throughout Africa gathered and became the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. This team went on to found the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust and gain the endorsement of the African Union. Moreover, AVAT became an integral part of the Africa Vaccine Strategy. AVAT’s primary goal is ensuring the vaccination of at least 60% of the African population against COVID-19. Individuals can help through advocating for increased COVID-19 vaccine donations from their governments and through educating themselves about COVID-19 vaccine equity in Africa.
Realizing COVID-19 Vaccine Equity
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the world, vaccine equity should remain at the forefront of global efforts. Many developed countries are increasingly pledging to donate COVID-19 vaccines due to pressure from the global initiatives mentioned above. Therefore, it remains important for individuals to support the global COVID-19 vaccine equity initiatives to help make vaccine equity a reality.
– Nohad Awada