COVID-19 vaccine for all: WHO releases guidelines for manufactures, countries with high coverage

WHO has set a vaccination target of 40 per cent population of every country by end-2021 and 70 per cent by mid-2022

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 08 October 2021

Countries that have inoculated a large number of residents against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) should fulfill and enhance their dose-sharing and donation commitments made to COVAX, the World Health Organization (WHO) said October 7, 2021. 

COVAX or COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access is a global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines. 

The direction was part of an all-encompassing guidance document released by the United Nations health agency to underline the global vaccination goals and ensure uniform access. 

Countries that manufacture vaccines should allow free movement of ready doses and raw materials to other parts of the world, said WHO. They should also diversify and ramp up production and allow technology transfer. 

The organisation has set a vaccination target of 40 per cent population of every country by the end of this year and 70 per cent by the middle of next year. 

“WHO had set a target to vaccinate 10% of every country, economy and territory by the end of September but by that date 56 countries had not been able to do so, the vast majority of these are countries in Africa and the Middle East,” the organisation said.

It suggested a three-step approach for achieving its global vaccination goals defined for the next few months, prioritising older adults, health workers and high-risk individuals across age-groups, WHO said. Vaccinating the entire adult population of every country should be the next priority, followed by adolescents.

To enhance coverage in countries with low vaccination rates, the health agency urged nations with high coverage to swap vaccine-delivery schedules with COVAX and African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT). Such countries who have not pledged to donate through COVAX should establish new commitments, it said. 

WHO outlined the following measures for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers:

  • Prioritise and fulfil COVAX and AVAT contracts as a matter of urgency;
  • Provide full transparency on the overall monthly production of COVID-19 vaccines and clear monthly schedules for supplies to COVAX, AVAT and low and low-middle income countries, to enable proper global and national-level planning and optimal use of scarce supplies;
  • Actively engage and work with countries that have high coverage and that have contracted high volumes of vaccines to allow the prioritization of COVAX and AVAT contracts, including through delivery schedule swaps, and facilitate rapid and early dose-sharing;
  • Commit to share know-how more rapidly, facilitate technology transfer and provide transparent non-exclusive voluntary licenses, to ensure that future vaccine supply is reliable, affordable, available, and deployed to every country in volumes and timing that achieves equitable access.

The health agency called for multilateral development banks and institutions to help countries “rapidly access the capital and external support” for widespread and uniform domestic distribution of doses. They should also aid cross-border vaccine supply and actively participate in the processes of COVAX and AVAT, the document stated. 

WHO also urged the civil society, communities and the private sector to do their bit in advocating for vaccine equality through online and offline campaigns as well as help spread awareness to create vaccine demand. 

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