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Rockefeller calls for boosting global access to COVID-19 vaccines

June 4, 2021

Vials of COVID-19 vaccines with a syringe in one vial.

As more than ten thousand people a day continue to die from COVID-19 around the world, a report from the Rockefeller Foundation calls for urgent action and proposes financing models for ensuring equitable global access to vaccines.

According to the report, One for All: An Updated Action Plan for Global Covid-19 Vaccination (27 pages, PDF), more than 80 percent of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered 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. Only about 14 percent of South Americans, 4.8 percent of Asians, and 1.2 percent of Africans have been vaccinated, compared with nearly 50 percent of North Americans and more than 25 percent of Europeans.

To address the disparity, the report outlines a five-step plan to scale equitable vaccination: accelerate and expand efforts to share surplus vaccine doses; invest in increased vaccine production capacity; invest in the transfer of technology to expand manufacturing capacity in the Global South; fast-track efforts to build the support systems needed to deliver and administer vaccines in developing countries; and help the Global COVAX Facility—an initiative led by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), in partnership with UNICEF—close its $9.3 billion funding gap and enable ninety-two low- and middle-income countries to vaccinate half their adult populations.

A follow-up to the foundation's Action Plan for Financing Global Vaccination and Sustainable Growthpublished in April, the report estimates that in 2022, the funding gap for all four pillars of WHO's Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator—vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and health systems connector—for low- and middle-income countries could reach $49 billion. The study outlines financing models for closing that gap, including for the International Monetary Fund and its shareholders to consider deploying special drawing rights (SDRs), with wealthy nations reallocating at least $100 billion in SDRs. The report's authors propose three modalities through which SDRs could be channeled: creating a dedicated window under both the Poverty Reduction Growth Trust and General Resources Account that specifically underwrites loans to IMF members for the purpose of pandemic response; establishing a dedicated trust within the IMF; and creating a fund within an IMF-approved institution such as the World Bank/International Development Association.

"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 Bruce Gellin, the foundation's chief of global public health strategy. "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."

Tags: Health; Novel coronavirus (COVID-19); Foundations and grantmaking