What is the Future of the Global Health Security Agenda?

The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) was launched in 2014 to drive multilateral, multi-sector prioritization and coordination of global health security. By definition, GHSA was designed to enhance country capacities to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks; emphasize global health security as a national leader-level priority and galvanize high-level commitments to global health security; promote multi-sectoral engagement and collaboration; and focus on common, measurable targets.

The GHSA is now at an inflection point. While GHSA has built a strong community, the COVID-19 pandemic has also stress-tested domestic and global health systems and raised questions about the reach, relevance, and impact of this partnership. Despite its success as a forum for collaboration and incubator for health security concepts and networks, GHSA has been less visible as part of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, missing an important opportunity to activate its coordination mechanisms to support global policy discussions on the future of the global health security architecture.

As the GHSA 2024 Framework enters its final year in 2023 — and as global leaders advance a range of instruments and mechanisms to make the world safer from emerging pandemic threats — now is the time to reflect on the lessons learned from the GHSA and its role in the evolving global health security architecture. The establishment of the Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (Pandemic Fund) at the World Bank, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on a Pandemic Instrument at the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN General Assembly’s resolution to hold a High-level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response in 2023 all offer new promise to elevate the health security agenda. In light of these developments, GHSA members should reach a clear decision on the future of the partnership by the end of 2022 and ensure that the GHSA both informs, and is informed by, decisions made in these other fora, as part of a more systemic set of reforms to strengthen global health security and governance. 

Developed in partnership with the Global Health Security Agenda Consortium, NTI:bio, and Pandemic Action Network, this paper draws on reflections and feedback from a wide range of stakeholders engaged in global health security to assess the successes, challenges, and constraints of the GHSA’s structure and make recommendations for its future and the future of multi-stakeholder engagement for health security.

Read the full paper

Misinformation in the Era of Pandemics

Of all the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, one that will have far-reaching and long-term health impact is the worrying rise in anti-vaccine sentiment. We know that COVID has had a dramatic impact on vaccine confidence, but that faltering confidence is unfortunately not limited to the COVID vaccine. New research and data show that misinformation and distrust surrounding the COVID vaccine has spilled over to other routine vaccines, such as measles, resulting in decreasing vaccination rates and increasing the risk of outbreaks. At the root of this trend is a pervasive and increasingly powerful engine of misinformation.

Vaccine misinformation is not new, but COVID has made it more mainstream and profitable. In the U.S., the archetype of the original anti-vaxxer was a parent opting for a more “natural” lifestyle for their children, but since the politicization of vaccines, the movement has gained traction, particularly among white conservatives. Anti-vaccine Google searches have also increased during the pandemic, peaking after various WHO announcements. Support for getting a COVID vaccine varies by region — 74.8% in West and Central Africa and 97.2% in Asia Pacific region — while vaccine confidence in the U.S. has decreased by 20% since the COVID-19 pandemic began. According to NPR, “articles connecting vaccines and death have been among the most highly engaged with content online this year.” And, what is fueling this surge in anti-vaccine misinformation? Profit. The anti-vaccine industry boasts annual revenues of at least US$36 million, according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

These days, many people including parents rely on the internet for medical information, but the facts are not the only thing they are finding. Studies show that “using the internet and social media as a source was associated with vaccine hesitancy.” In one study, 45% of parents who relied on the internet for vaccine information were vaccine hesitant, and parents who rely on the internet for vaccine information were significantly associated with vaccine hesitancy.

What does this mean for global health? 

  • In the short term, we are seeing more outbreaks of preventable diseases and thus more preventable deaths. Measles cases in January and February of 2022 surged 79% worldwide compared to the same time last year. 
  • Long term, this trend points to severe consequences. Outbreaks of measles or polio would divert staff and funds away from other health crises and be very expensive, with vaccine-preventable diseases posing an economic burden of US$9 billion in 2015 alone. Rather than focusing on R&D for new treatments or emerging diseases, we will be diverting funds to solve outbreaks that were preventable in the first place, wasting valuable time and resources.  

So what can we do to stop this wave of vaccine misinformation? Vaccine misinformation and hesitancy varies by community, so responses must be tailored and specific

  • To learn more about who is funding vaccine misinformation efforts and how governments are responding, check out the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
  • You can sign their petition calling on major technology companies to take action and remove vaccine misinformation along with superspreaders from their sites. 
  • For more information on vaccine education efforts, check out our resource hub on vaccine education.

In our global society and communications landscape, we cannot ignore the rising tide of health misinformation. Just like a virus, what starts with misinformation about one disease in one community, can quickly evolve to infect other communities around the world.

 

It’s About Time: Pandemic Action Network Statement on Welcoming the UNGA Resolution on a High-Level Meeting for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the resolution adopted by Member States today at the United Nations General Assembly calling for a high-level meeting on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. 

Such a high-level meeting of political leaders is long overdue in the wake of a deadly pandemic that has cost millions of lives and trillions in economic losses and has setback decades of progress in health and societal outcomes. Since its inception in early 2020, Pandemic Action Network has been calling for a high-level UN meeting to address the urgent priorities of pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response at the highest political levels. While sometime before September 2023 is better than nothing, we urge leaders from every nation to prioritize this high-level meeting and make sure it lays the foundations to elevate, accelerate, and sustain efforts to combat pandemic threats at national, regional, and global levels. 

This initial meeting, which should kickstart accountability measures, must be followed with a sustained series of high-level meetings to commit to the actions needed. The creation of a high-level council to tackle global health threats at the heads of state and government levels, inclusive of civil society and the private sector, should be one of the meeting’s primary aims. Such a council is much needed to ensure speedy and coordinated international action and accountability to address both existing and emerging pandemic threats.

As we now navigate this era of pandemics amidst pandemic fatigue, this high-level meeting is more urgent than ever.

Global Pandemic Fund Action Hub

 

Global Pandemic Fund Action Hub

Track, Analyze, Engage

On June 30, 2022, the World Bank’s Board approved the establishment of a new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) to mobilize new investments that strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR) capacities at national, regional, and global levels, with a strong focus on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Such a decision — supported by multiple countries and experts — is a crucial step towards a future where pandemics no longer represent a global existential threat.

This nascent Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (Global Pandemic Fund) was established on September 8, 2022, after a group of founding donors agreed on the minimum necessary aspects for its operation. The World Bank hosts the Fund’s secretariat with support from the World Health Organization. Further work and agreements are required to ensure this new financial instrument will deliver on its transformative promise to make the world safer from pandemics. Among these are its focus and scope, structure, operations, governance, and financing, which experts estimate needs to reach a minimum of US$10 billion annually.

Since the process of designing and establishing the Global Pandemic Fund is moving swiftly, Pandemic Action Network has set up this dynamic resource hub to organize and facilitate access to relevant information. Moreover, this Action Hub aims to inform our partners and any civil society group about key developments and opportunities to mobilize, collaborate and shape the Global Pandemic Fund’s design and future operations.

Key documents

In this section, you will find public and official documents related to the governance and operation of the Global Pandemic Fund. Some of them can be preliminary versions or drafts under review by the Fund’s Governing Board.

Fund Pledge Tracker

Pandemic Action Network and the ONE Campaign are keeping a record of the pledges made to the Global Pandemic Fund. The goal is to better understand its funding sources and sustainability and to promote transparency and accountability through regular monitoring.

Access the Global Pandemic Fund Tracker

Civil Society Organization (CSO) Consultation Process

For this new Global Pandemic Fund to be successful and sustainable — and achieve its transformative promise to make the world safer from pandemics — there must be an inclusive approach to the current design process. CSOs must have room to inform the design, governance, priorities, and stand-up process. While we are supportive of the promise of the Fund, CSOs and low- and middle-income countries should be co-creators and decision-makers at every step of the Fund’s design and operation in order to ensure its success. Evidence from other mechanisms where CSOs have played an active role shows their involvement and contributions strengthen their functioning and enhance participation, accountability, and representation of affected communities. 

To catalyze needed progress toward meaningful inclusion, Pandemic Action Network, together with partners, the Center for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiatives (CISDI), the Eastern Africa National Networks of AIDS Service Organisations (EANNASO), and WACI Health, are managing the official CSO consultation process to the Fund.

🗓️ Upcoming Sessions

    • None scheduled; please check back.

📚 Previous Consultation Outcomes

    • September 15, Civil Society & Communities Town Hall: Feedback from First Pandemic Fund Board Meeting
      During this meeting, interim civil society Board Members Jackline Njeri Kiarie and Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, along with alternate Board Members Nitish Debnath and Olya Golichenko, provided a readout of the first meeting of the Pandemic Fund Governing Board meeting (Sept. 8-9), shared updates on decisions and tasks ahead, and gathered feedback from civil society and communities colleagues.

      Presentation Deck (Sept. 15) | Readout & Notes

    • August 30 & 31, Second Round Consultations | Summary of Proceedings and Key Messages
      This document summarizes the discussions from August 30 and 31 and presents the ideas and recommendations emphasized by CSO participants on the scope and priorities of the PPR FIF. Annexes contain meeting notes, attendee information, and written feedback.

      Summary of Proceedings and Key Messages (Aug 30/31)

    • August 16 & 17, First Round Consultations | Summary of Proceedings and Key Messages
      This document summarizes the discussions from August 16 and 17 and presents crucial ideas and recommendations emphasized by multiple participants on three issues: governing board, civil society engagement, and technical advisory panel. Annexes also contain meeting notes and written feedback provided.

      Summary of Proceedings and Key Messages (Aug 16/17)

📹 Recordings

👥 Participation

Additional figures will be provided soon.

Interim CSO Representatives for the PPR FIF Governing Board

📢 Call for Nominations

Founding contributors in the new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (PPR) reached an agreement that its Governing Board should include two voting seats for civil society organization (CSO) representatives. Pandemic Action Network, the Center for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiatives (CISDI), the Eastern Africa National Networks of AIDS Service Organisations (EANNASO), and the Platform for ACT-A Civil Society & Community Representatives initiated a civil society-led selection process and issued a global call for nominations to select two interim CSO representatives for the PPR FIF Governing Board on August 26, 2022.

This interim selection process took place on an abbreviated timeframe to ensure that the interim CSO representatives could participate in the first Governing Board meeting, scheduled for September 8-9, 2022. The application deadline was September 2, 12 pm ET, and the eligibility criteria and nomination form remain available for anyone interested.

👥 Selection Committee

The group of organizations and networks facilitating the civil society-led selection process believed it was key that the composition of the Selection Committee reflected regional and thematic diversity. With this in mind, the group agreed to integrate it with seven (7) members. They were:

    • Ashley Arabasadi, Management Sciences for Health
    • Harjyot Khosa, International Planned Parenthood Federation (South Asia Regional Office)
    • Lizzie Otaye, EANNASO
    • Mike Podmore, Platform for ACT-A Civil Society & Community Representatives/STOPAIDS
    • Nahashon Aluoka, Pandemic Action Network
    • Neil Vora, Conservation International/PPATS Coalition
    • Olivia Herlinda, CISDI

⏱️ Timeline

👤 Selected Representatives

On behalf of the Selection Committee, we are pleased to announce that Jackline Njeri Kiarie (Amref Health Africa — Global South) and Elisha Dunn-Georgiou (Global Health Council — Global North) were selected as interim civil society representatives for the new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (PPR) Governing Board. Nitish Debnath (One Health Bangladesh) and Olya Golichenko (Frontline AIDS, United Kingdom) will act as alternates. They have all accepted their positions.

This process has aimed to ensure that a diversity of civil society experience, global perspectives, and regional representation inform PPR FIF decision-making, starting from the first meeting of the Fund’s Governing Board, scheduled for September 8-9. These representatives will serve for an interim period of approximately six months until full-term CSO representatives are named through a longer-term, civil society-led selection process. 

While ensuring interim CSO representatives are in place for this week’s first PPR FIF Governing Board meeting required an extremely abbreviated timeframe, 66 submissions were received from 27 countries during the one-week open call for nominations. We are confident that the selected individuals will be strong representatives of the diversity of global civil society, advocate determinedly for community voices and priorities in the PPR space, and collectively demonstrate the vital and constructive role of civil society in global decision-making.

Analysis & Resources

Closing the Gap: Global Pandemic Fund Tracker

Acting on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis and the recommendations of several expert panels — including the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and the G20 High-Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons — the World Bank’s Board approved on June 30, 2022, the establishment of a new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) to mobilize new investments to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR) capacities at national, regional, and global levels, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). 

This nascent Global Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (Global Pandemic Fund) is currently under design. Its strength and potential will depend on its vision, focus, structure, and governance — including transparency and inclusivity in all design and decision-making processes — as well as robust and sustainable funding, which experts estimate needs to reach a minimum of US$10 billion annually. 

Now is the time for leaders from around the world to support the Global Pandemic Fund so that it can deliver on its promise of addressing critical gaps in pandemic PPR and strengthening country-level capacity. Support from a broader base of countries — as well as from philanthropies and the private sector — is necessary for cementing sustained, global investments in pandemic preparedness as a global public good that bring tangible benefits to all and prevent another deadly and costly pandemic. But to fulfill the Fund’s mission, contributions must also be truly additional to financial commitments for other global health and development priorities and programs

Based on publicly-available information and intelligence gathered through our Networks, this tracker aims to record pledges made to the Global Pandemic Fund, with the goal of better understanding funding sources and sustainability, and promoting transparency and accountability through regular tracking.

Access the Tracker’s Data

Summary Analysis

Last updated September 10, 2022

As of this day, the World Bank claims the Global Pandemic Fund has raised pledges of US$1.4 billion. However, only US$1.29 billion have been publicly announced. Further contributions amounting to US$8.71 billion are needed to reach the US$10 billion annual baseline experts have estimated necessary.

16 donors 12 governments, 3 philanthropic organizations, 1 nonprofit organization, and 0 private sector organizations have pledged to the Global Pandemic Fund. According to the World Bank, seven additional donors committed to contributing, but their pledges have not been announced. Only Australia committed publicly, without disclosing a specific amount.

While it is crucial that as many countries as possible contribute to the Global Pandemic Fund, G20 and OECD members are essential donors. Because of their roles globally, these countries must set an example in contributing to and sustaining global public goods, such as pandemic preparedness and response. The following map shows the pledge status of such a group of countries.

Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Tracker (Global Pandemic Fund)

Is the tracker's data accurate and up to date? If not, do not hesitate to share any intel or modification suggestions with us.

Methodology

  • Included pledges have been verified either by a government or multilateral website, and/or the World Bank, and/or a credible top-tier news outlet.
  • “Additionality” is defined as additional to existing global health and development spending — the term is used to qualify that the financial resources pledged are new compared to other financial resources already committed to global health, international aid, or other funding mechanisms. Donor-specific budget rules are also considered in the assessment.

More about the Global Pandemic Fund

What To Know Before the G7 Leaders’ Summit

The G7 Leaders’ Summit is just around the corner, and — as one of the five priorities of the German Presidency — pandemic preparedness and response is expected to have a central role in the meeting. In Germany’s own words, this year’s program aims “to expand the G7’s pioneering role in the commitment to pandemic prevention and control as well as improving the international health architecture.” While this might be a good omen for relevant agreements and commitments, the G7’s record on pandemics is not consistent and makes many of us wary. So, what do we need to know to understand the landscape and ensure this G7 goes beyond a series of photo ops and warm words?

A bit of historical background… Seven years ago, under the German Presidency as well, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa drove forward similar promises to those on the table in 2022. The 2015 Elmau Declaration contained crucial commitments, including support for the “World Bank to develop a Pandemic Emergency Facility” advanced by the G20 and strengthening of a mechanism for rapid response to pandemics. Side note, the 2015 declaration also includes clear language on “finding a solution to the conflict in Ukraine.” Déjà vu, anyone? We know that over the following years, these commitments lost traction and their implementation lagged. The following declarations — 2016 Ise Shima Declaration, 2017 Taormina Declaration, 2018 Charlevoix Declaration, and the 2019 Biarritz Declaration — progressively erased pandemics off the agenda until it made it back in 2020, this time under an unprecedented global crisis.   

So, what tells us that 2022 could be different? Germany’s G7 leadership this year is a reason for optimism. The country has made significant contributions to the ACT-Accelerator, has supported and raised funds for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment mechanism, and also committed financial contributions to CEPI and the forthcoming new Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Fund at the World Bank. Moreover, in preparation for the Summit, Germany has convened high-level officials to discuss pandemics and pave the way for the Leaders’ Summit.

The G7’s preparatory work in May provides some hints and insights about what agreements might be in the making. Here’s a summary of the outcomes and work of the following Ministers’ meetings:

  • Foreign Ministers. They have mainly focused on the G7’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and on addressing gaps in the global vaccination campaign. On May 13, they released an “Action Plan on COVID-19,” which aims to align the group’s response efforts. In its last communiqué, they also noted that they are already working on “planning the ongoing COVID-19 response for 2023” but didn’t share specific details.
  • Health Ministers. Their last communiqué provides an overview of the issues and variables shaping the conversation and shows how the G7 is looking into preventing future pandemics and enhancing the world’s response to pandemic threats. Recently they released a concept note for a “G7 Pact for Pandemic Readiness,” which has a strong emphasis on surveillance. It is unclear though if other essential aspects for pandemic preparedness will also be considered by the group and how.  
  • Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. As they are responsible for aligning commitments and funding, their last communiqué helps to understand what are the competing priorities. They expressed support for the establishment of the new Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Fund, hosted by the World Bank, but they clearly stated that a broader group of countries should contribute financially as well. 
  • Development Ministers. This group has discussed the effects of COVID-19, as shown in their last communiqué, and has worked with Health Ministers to accelerate the G7’s response to ending the pandemic globally — putting emphasis on access to vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics — and increasing countries’ capacities on pandemic preparedness and response. It stands out that their support for expanding access to vaccines, testing, and therapeutics worldwide seems to rely only on voluntary technology transfer and not in more proactive measures. 

What’s missing, and what’s ahead? If after reviewing these different pieces you get a feeling that something is missing, you are not alone. So far, the information proactively disclosed by the German Presidency does not reveal specific actions or preliminary plans. It remains unclear how most of the commitments will be advanced and turn into concrete changes. With the information available up to this point, this next G7 Leaders’ Summit could yield good commitments but the risk of forgetting them in the coming years might be as present as in 2015. As such, the six months following the Leaders’ Summit will be critical to ensuring clear actions and setting the stage for Japan to pick up the G7 leadership baton in 2023.

If you are attending the G7, please let us know! Otherwise, stay in touch on social media.

Call for African Leaders to Support the Pandemic Fund

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the devastating impact that epidemics and pandemics can have on the health, security, and prosperity of Africans. It has accentuated the need for a New Public Health Order for Africa — championed by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) — not in the least because of the gross global inequities in access to medical tools including vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, personal protective equipment, and other lifesaving medical countermeasures and supplies that have played out during this pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has also underscored the need for Africa to build more resilient health systems and collaborate across borders to be able to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging health threats while addressing ongoing health priorities. 

African civil society organizations (CSOs) have come together to urge leaders of African governments to pledge their support for the proposed new Pandemic Preparedness Fund at the World Bank and to ensure that the Fund advances the aims of the New Public Health Order for Africa through equitable and multilateral support. If well-resourced, the Fund has the potential to be a transformative new source of financing to advance Africa’s health security and to prevent the next pandemic. 

Read the full letter. If your organization is interested in signing on, please reach out to Hanna

 

Call for G7 Leaders to Take Pandemic Action!

Ahead of this month’s G7 Leaders’ Summit and in the face of multiple global challenges, civil society groups (CSOs) from around the world urge G7 Leaders to take action on pandemics to both align the global response to make COVID-19 a controllable respiratory disease across all countries and step up efforts to prepare the world against the next pandemic threat. 

While the outcomes of the last Global COVID-19 Summit and G7 Ministerial Meetings showed renewed political commitment and a much needed reset to the global response, ending this pandemic still demands further action. As noted in May’s G7 Foreign, Health, and Development Ministers communiqués, the pandemic won’t be over until it is over for all. Echoing their words, nearly 40 CSOs call on G7 Leaders to invest now to end the current crisis and prevent the next, including by addressing poverty and inequality as barriers to ending pandemics and through investment in national health capacity and community systems.

Three priority actions:

  1. Fill the financing gaps to advance the delivery of COVID-19 tools still needed such as tests and treatments, increasing transparency to foster coordination and enhance value for money. 
  2. Advance new, equitable, inclusive, and innovative sources of financing for pandemic preparedness and response, including through the new Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness Fund.
  3. Build on the G7 Pact for Pandemic Readiness Concept Note of May 20 to drive support for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to pandemic preparedness.

The CSOs also strongly urge G7 Leaders to capitalize on the opportunity at the G7 Summit to publicly endorse the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response’s recommendation to establish a Global Health Threats Council and commit to advancing the proposal during the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.

Read the full letter. If your organization would like to sign on, contact Hanna by June 21.

Investing in Global Health Security: How to Build a Fund for Pandemic Preparedness in 2022

Health experts from around the world have warned for years that countries, regional bodies, and global institutions must invest more in critical capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to epidemic and pandemic threats. The COVID-19 pandemic—with more than six million deaths to date and costs to the global economy estimated by the International Monetary Fund to reach at least $12.5 trillion through 2024—is the latest, and most devastating, crisis to underscore the need to shape and sustainably fund long-term pandemic preparedness capacities globally.

On April 21, 2022, immediately after G20 finance ministers and central bank governors reached consensus to establish a new Fund for preparedness at the World Bank, a group of leading experts and stakeholders from governments, civil society, academia, and multilateral institutions working in global health, global health security, and biodefense met to review progress and offer advice on next steps.

This paper reflects the key takeaways from that conversation and aims to inform next steps to structure, approve, and launch a new Fund, including the consultative process led by the World Bank.

Collective Commitment for the Second Global COVID-19 Summit

The following collective commitment was submitted on behalf of Pandemic Action Network for the Second Global COVID-19 Summit hosted on May 12, 2022.

Pandemic Action Network is a network of 257 organizations around the world driving collective action to bring an end to the COVID-19 crisis and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic.

Pandemic Action Network is staying in this fight until the COVID crisis is ended for everyone, everywhere and sustainable systems are built at the global, regional, and national levels to proactively and equitably prevent, prepare for, and respond to future pandemic threats.

Pandemic Action Network commits to mobilize at least 100 new partners by the end of 2022, with an emphasis on organizations in lower- and middle-income countries, to advance the Summit goals to vaccinate the world, save lives now, and build back better for global health security and pandemic preparedness.

From now through the end of 2022, Pandemic Action Network and its global community of partners commit to: 

Vaccinate the World: Press governments, multilateral agencies, philanthropic and private sector partners to galvanize the necessary investments, coordination, and incentives to deliver vaccines that are still urgently needed in many parts of the world, including but not limited to closing the remaining funding gaps that have been identified for COVAX and the ACT-Accelerator. We will champion and support delivery of an accelerated, robust, and equitable global vaccination plan in support of national, regional, and global vaccination targets to achieve equitable global immunization levels.

Save Lives Now: Support efforts to drive forward a dynamic global test-to-treat strategy that applies lessons learned from the dramatic inequities in access to COVID-19 medical countermeasures and lifesaving tools. We will work to increase transparency on pricing and supply of tools to fight COVID-19, and make sure stakeholders prioritize access to testing, timely reporting, and treatments as the world transitions from crisis response to long-term sustainable preparedness for future surges of COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks.

Build Better Health Security: Mobilize political and financial commitments to stand-up and finance a dedicated new fund for global health security and pandemic preparedness. We will work with governments, the World Bank, WHO, philanthropy, private sector and civil society partners to design, launch, promote, and sustainably finance a fund that marshals significant new and sustainable resources for pandemic preparedness, as an inclusive and additive part of the global health architecture. 

In addition, Pandemic Action Network will promote cross-country and cross-regional cooperation, and sharing of best practices and lessons learned, to inform more effective and equitable pandemic preparedness and response plans and implementation. 

Pandemic Action Network will also maintain a steady drumbeat of advocacy, outreach, and civic engagement to keep all stakeholders — governments, private sector, philanthropy, academic, and civil society — accountable to their commitments and roles in building a healthier, safer future for all.

The Pandemic Action Network global community of partners commits to investing at least US$175 million between May and December 2022 toward these efforts, to help end the COVID-19 crisis and ensure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic.

Watch Pandemic Action Network’s submitted video commitment in advance of the Summit.

 

 

Seizing the Moment: Global Action to End the COVID-19 Crisis and Prevent the Next Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. The rapid global spread of the omicron variant has transitioned the pandemic to a new phase that requires updating our strategy and priorities to ensure a more effective — and equitable — response.

We are at a pivotal moment: progress on the global response has slowed, and we risk further setbacks due to the convergence of multiple global security crises with pandemic fatigue and complacency. The post-omicron global strategy must evolve, and requires global solidarity, coordination, and commitment to address short- and long-term imperatives.

These imperatives resounded throughout our jointly convened dialogue, Global Call to Action: End the COVID-19 Crisis and Prevent the Next Pandemic, on March 29, 2022. Diverse speakers joined by over 400 participants from around the world collectively identified four priorities set in a declaration to meet global needs at this stage of the pandemic and build stronger, more resilient, and equitable systems for the future: 

  1. Accelerate equitable access to and acceptance of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, building for the future.
  2. Support country-led and community-driven goals and priorities, with global support strengthening national and regional systems and advancing equity.
  3. Build and invest now to pandemic proof the future for everyone, everywhere.
  4. Drive accountability at all levels and commit to global solidarity.

Read the joint declaration by Africa CDC, Amref Health Africa, African Population and Health Research Center, Organismo Andinode Salud, Cayetano Heredia University School of Public Health, Center for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiatives, COVID GAP, Pandemic Action Network, ONE Campaign, University of Ibadan College of Medicine, and WACI Health.

También disponible en español.

The Network Effect on Pandemic Preparedness & Response

It has been two years of collective action. In April 2020, Pandemic Action Network formed to end the current pandemic as quickly as possible and ensure the world is prepared for the next one. 

Starting with 25 partners, the Network was built on a core operating assumption: Pandemics are too big, too numerous, and too complex for any one single stakeholder or sector to tackle alone. Two years in — and now in year three of the COVID crisis with over 250 partners around the world — that assumption is even more true.

Over the past two years, we have intentionally built Pandemic Action Network to be a diverse and agile group of partners — a global advocacy platform — where we can drive consensus for action without being hampered by the need to be consensus-driven. Today, we’re at an inflection point in the fight to end the COVID crisis and ensure a pandemic-proof future.

Our Year Two Impact Report focuses on the power of the Network Effect — our unique ability to harness the capacity, expertise, and influence of our diverse and growing group of partners across sectors and geographies to accelerate an end to the COVID crisis for everyone and advance meaningful change to pandemic proof our future. 

In practice, the Network Effect is fueled by a platform that is built for sharing timely information and intelligence, active brainstorming and strategizing, convening of experts and key stakeholders, openly connecting across traditional silos and boundaries, i.e., organizations, markets, sectors, and geographies, and targeted communications and policy and advocacy resources. The result is that Network members are better supported, aligned, and (often most importantly) not alone in taking action. Among the most significant roles for the Network is ensuring that pandemic preparedness does not disappear from agendas as policy makers — but also global health advocates and change makers — as many move on to other priorities in the wake of the crisis phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, our collective efforts are more important than ever. 

Our Year Two Report details lessons learned, our progress and impact, priorities for action, and how we plan to evolve to tackle the challenges ahead. It is a reminder that the agenda ahead is ambitious to match the complexity of pandemics. Our Network Effect must grow in order to meet the challenges ahead. Together, we must be relentless and stay in the fight until we have translated the promises and commitments of this crisis into a future in which humanity is better prepared to deal with outbreaks and prevent a deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.

Read The Network Effect on Pandemic Preparedness & Response — Our Year Two Impact Report.

To all our partners, thank you for staying in the fight! If you are not a partner of Pandemic Action Network and you are interested in joining our collective effort, please contact us

State of Play Report: Pandemic Preparedness and Response in Africa

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into its third year, African countries are grappling with the fallout from this multi-year crisis. The pandemic has exacerbated geopolitical, national, and social divides, setting back years of progress on health and gender equity, education, poverty reduction, and social progress. Health and social systems are strained, making us less prepared to respond to pandemics and other health crises.

Even as we look ahead, the COVID-19 crisis still looms. The pandemic underlines the urgent requirement across the continent for a New Public Health Order, championed by Africa CDC, and the need to build on lessons learned from previous epidemics.

The State of Play report from Future Africa Forum, documents lessons learned from recent epidemics, highlights challenges, and provides actionable and practical pandemic preparedness and response policy recommendations in an African context.

Read the full report.

Read the related policy brief.

 

An African Agenda for Pandemic Preparedness and Response — Policy Brief

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists into its third year, African countries are grappling with the fallout from this multi-year crisis. Widespread loss of life, enduring disability, and broader economic and social fallout of the COVID-19 crisis has made pandemic preparedness an urgent imperative. With momentum around the call for a New Public Health Order for Africa, there is a window of opportunity for substantial policy reform at national, regional, and global levels. This is a window that must not be wasted.

Developed by Future Africa ForumAn African Agenda for Pandemic Preparedness and Response — presents practical and actionable recommendations aimed at enhancing pandemic preparedness and response capabilities and capacities for African policymakers at both regional and national levels. The policy brief is anchored by the State of Play report, a systematic review of African regional policy documents and initiatives relating to pandemic preparedness and response and engagement of civil society stakeholders.

Read the full policy brief here

G20’s Time to Act: A Sustained and Accelerated Global Response to COVID-19

In advance of the G7 and G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meetings — taking place on April 20, 2022 in Washington, D.C. — 40 civil society organizations from across the world have called on G20 leaders and finance ministers to urgently ensure the global response to COVID-19 is sustained and accelerated. Meeting this goal remains a critical variable for the world’s recovery, security and stability.

Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors are strategically positioned to make the G7 and G20 political commitments a reality by articulating actions and funding. The decisions they reach in these meetings and those scheduled in the coming weeks — ahead of the 2nd Global COVID-19 Summit — will reflect their true commitment to putting an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing another crisis of such kind and magnitude.

Concretely, this group of organizations has asked all G20 Finance Ministers to consider the following actions:

1. Finance the COVID-19 response and pandemic preparedness and increase transparency to enhance value for money.

  • Swiftly fund the most urgent needs of low- and middle-income countries so they can deliver national, regional, and global targets on vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, as well as delivery of all COVID-19 tools.

  • Fully fund COVAX’s Pandemic Vaccine Pool and delivery costs for all pandemic countermeasures through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and country levels.

  • Fully fund the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) five-year strategy, so we have a head start in beating future pandemic threats through R&D that is designed to put equitable access at the heart of global pandemic responses.

  • Facilitate increased transparency in the production, pricing, supply, financing, and delivery of pandemic countermeasures to track tools from production to patients.

2. Innovate to deliver new sources of financing for the global COVID-19 response and pandemic preparedness.

  • Stand up and sustainably finance a new Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness Fund in 2022 to jumpstart financing for country and regional preparedness for pandemic threats toward a target of at least US$10 billion annually. Gaps to focus on can be identified through the Global Health Security Index and country-led processes.

  • High-income countries should urgently deliver the US$100 billion in recycled Special Drawing Rights pledged by the G20 through Multilateral Development Banks and ensure these are leveraged for global health and climate finance without delay.

  • Ministers should also explore other sources of financing beyond Official Development Assistance — including via the Global Public Investment model — prioritizing ending pandemics as vital to the world’s economic and human security and stability. Investment in primary health care systems must be included to prevent and better respond to future pandemic threats.

Amid the pressing issues that the international community faces, we must intensify our work together to accelerate momentum on the global COVID-19 response and ensure comprehensive pandemic preparedness in all countries.

Read the full letter.

Activating Young Leaders to End the COVID Crisis and Pandemic Proof Our Future

COVID-19 has profoundly uprooted global norms. While the pandemic affects people across the globe, the impacts are different based on where you live and who you are. For the under-30s of the world, we will be hit hardest by long-term economic, social, and emotional stressors, and we will bear the brunt of the fallout if leaders fail to act on pandemic preparedness. With crises like global conflict, climate change, and potentially another deadly pandemic on the horizon, youth voices must be prioritized in change-making. 

Global leaders should engage and support youth in response to the current crises while advocating for future pandemic preparedness. Around the globe, 40% of 18 to 29 year-olds feel left out of designing or reforming public benefits and services. It is time to make space for new thought leadership, equip youth with the tools to address and mitigate pandemics, and invite them to the decision making tables. The onus is on youth to rebuild a more resilient global paradigm. Here’s how global leaders can support us:

  1. Tailor youth programming
    Use an intergenerational lens with youth-led and -designed programming to engage younger generations in responding to COVID-19 and working to prevent future pandemics. People under 30 account for half of the world’s population, so it’s important to engage with youth perspectives in pandemic programming. Review your organization’s pandemic preparedness and response initiatives to identify where you can incorporate youth voices and leadership to deliver on your goals more effectively.
  2. Step up and share the decision making power
    Two out of three countries do not consult young people as part of national development plans. This is an appeal to established leaders to give precedent for youth counsel. Advocating for the world to take pandemics seriously means providing youth-centered policy development and decision-making opportunities to support transparency, cooperation, and international disease monitoring and response structures. While established leaders must make space for younger leaders, this is also a call for youth to step up to the plate, advocate for pandemic preparedness across platforms, and hold international leaders accountable to their policy commitments. We need your voices to demand that future generations be spared from the impact of pandemic threats!
  3. Capitalize on youth social media savvy for pandemic response and preparedness
    We know that Gen Z is the first fully-global generation connected by digital devices and engaged in social media. But young people are more than just connected: they are savvy and have the potential to use their platforms to advance social good. Think about the K-POP fans who have organized around political activism. Now is the time to use the power and creativity of youth networks and partnerships to creatively break through, combat misinformation, and engage a broader audience on pandemic preparedness and response.
  4. Take action and amplify these youth engagement tools: 
    • Focus your energy on becoming a mentor with Global Health Me to connect with young global health professionals and students for a five-month mentoring opportunity.  

Every revolution in history has been led by young people. –Aya Chebbi

Build the Health Workforce Back Better to Prevent Future Pandemics

Frontline health workers are crucial for pandemic preparedness and response but for too long health workers have largely been taken for granted. The assumption seems to be that they are already ready and able to jump into action, keep health services going, and scale up one or another specific health intervention.

Yet, of all the factors delaying access to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and care, health workforce challenges are the most cited bottleneck, according to a WHO survey of 129 countries. Vaccine delivery has also been delayed by workforce inadequacies.

WHO states that these challenges arise due to “a combination of pre-existing shortages [of health workers] coupled with unavailability due to COVID-19 infections and deaths, mental health issues and burnout and departures from service due to a lack of decent working conditions.”

The factor of gender cannot be ignored. The health workforce is largely female, and it is not a coincidence that remuneration for their labor is often inadequate or inconsistently provided. Only 14% of community health workers in Africa are salaried, with many considered “volunteers,” part of the broader injustice of women’s care labor not being compensated.

COVID-19 has shown this is not just theoretical. Now, and in future pandemics, we need a motivated and supported health workforce to ensure acceptance and delivery of vaccines, disease surveillance, and risk communication.

Join the Frontline Health Workers Coalition and partners for World Health Worker Week on April 4-8 to push donors and governments to do more to protect and support a resilient health workforce.

Here a few ways you can get involved in World Health Worker Week:

 

Photo courtesy of IntraHealth International.

CEPI’s Unique Impact Opportunity: Pandemic Preparedness & Response R&D

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was founded with the mission to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases (EID) and enable equitable access for all during outbreaks. Less than three years after its start, CEPI’s quick response during the COVID-19 pandemic propelled the development and manufacturing of new vaccines and it was the only entity with the mandate to invest in de-risking COVID-19 vaccine research and development (R&D) with global access in mind. CEPI’s role fills some of the critical gaps that governments do not address and on March 7-8, the U.K. Government will host the CEPI replenishment at the Pandemic Preparedness Summit. The replenishment aims to raise US$3.5 billion for the delivery of CEPI’s critical 2022-2026 strategy to accelerate the development of vaccines and other health tools against epidemic and pandemic threats.

Produced by Pandemic Action Network and DSW, CEPI’s Unique Impact Opportunity: Pandemic Preparedness & Response R&D examines the characteristics and ways in which CEPI is distinctly positioned to bolster global and regional health security initiatives, especially through vaccine R&D against EIDs, to ensure the world is equipped to end the COVID crisis for everyone and is better prepared for the next pandemic.

Key messages of the brief explainer include:

  • CEPI is uniquely positioned to address global pandemic threats through vaccine R&D for emerging infectious diseases.
  • Because of its commitment to equitable access for the global good, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, CEPI’s work leads to increased access and distribution of much-needed vaccines to traditionally underserved populations.
  • Building on its role, investments, and relationships, CEPI delivers catalytic impact globally in pandemic preparedness and response.
  • CEPI fills critical gaps in the vaccine R&D ecosystem that would otherwise go unfilled.
  • Emerging infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, do not recognize international borders. CEPI’s global mandate naturally complements regional and national R&D institutions that work to counter pandemic threats.

Read the full brief.

Amplify these messages using our social media toolkit.

Personal Protective Equipment for Frontline Health Workers: An Essential Component of Pandemic Preparedness & Response

In December 2020, Pandemic Action Network’s Pandemic Action Agenda series urged world leaders to strengthen global health security architecture and governance in key areas, including pandemic supplies, to increase accountability and ensure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic and to respond to COVID-19.

This brief takes stock of progress made since December 2020 to resolve the global personal protective equipment (PPE) access crisis, aims to assess supply and demand challenges specific to community health workers, and informs recommendations for world, regional, and national leaders to build a more reliable and sustainable emergency response supply chain for the future.

Today, we have compelling evidence of the risk of leaving frontline health workers unprotected or partially protected against COVID-19, and we still lack sustainable solutions. As we look toward year three of this pandemic and beyond, world, regional, and national leaders must learn the lessons of this crisis and continue to prioritize sufficient PPE for frontline health workers — especially those who serve the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach populations.

Read the full brief here.

Pandemic R&D Agenda for Action: Fostering Innovation to End This Pandemic and Prepare for the Next One

As the world commences the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the case for investment in research and development (R&D) for medical countermeasures to prevent and combat emerging global health threats is stronger than ever. Despite tremendous scientific accomplishments in 2020-21, systemic gaps in pandemic-related R&D systems, supply chains, manufacturing, and delivery continue to stymie the roll-out of urgently needed technologies to all people who need them, everywhere, and are prolonging the pandemic.

COVID-19 and its variants have exposed longstanding market and systems failures and fragilities that pose barriers to timely and effective pandemic R&D. Not only do these persistent gaps threaten to undo progress achieved through the scientific breakthroughs, but they also exacerbate entrenched inequalities that leave the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people around the globe without access to lifesaving medical countermeasures and essential health services, and perpetuate gross power imbalances between high- and low-income nations. COVID-19 has also unleashed a multitude of actors in pandemic-related R&D across the innovation spectrum and across the globe, underscoring the growing need for more purposeful alignment, coordination, information-sharing, and transparency.

The world urgently needs a fit-for-purpose, proactive, and resilient pandemic R&D ecosystem. There is broad consensus that R&D is a vital component of building a world better equipped to prevent, prepare for, and respond to pandemic threats. Yet new investments in innovation will fail to meet their promise to save lives, prevent future global health emergencies, and build a healthier, safer world for all unless governments, international institutions, and industry are willing to heed the hard lessons of this pandemic and work together to fix these systemic failures and challenges.

Produced by Global Health Technologies Coalition and Pandemic Action Network with contributions by members of the Pandemic Action Network’s Pandemic Preparedness Working Group, this policy brief calls on world leaders to prioritize action in four key areas to close the critical R&D, manufacturing, and delivery gaps necessary to end the acute COVID-19 crisis and build a more resilient, equitable pandemic R&D ecosystem for the future.

Read the full brief here.

How to Help People Mask Better

Chances are you’ve seen the media headlines blaring recommendations to upgrade your masks:

Demand for N95 and KN95 masks is rising as experts say it’s time to ‘up your mask game’
-Fortune

How to find the best KN95 masks for kids because the cloth face mask isn’t cutting it
-USA Today

Why experts recommend a N95 mask to stop Covid spread
-CNN

So why am I seeing so many super COVID-cautious people clinging to their cloth masks? Research on behavior change and insights from the field of social marketing holds some of the answers to that question…plus tips for how to help people make the change.

Change is hard. When the Pandemic Action Network launched the #MaskingForAFriend campaign in April 2020, we knew this new masking behavior would be particularly difficult, especially in countries that had no experience with it. Given the desire to first secure personal protective equipment for frontline workers at the outset of the pandemic, we agreed with the WHO and CDC: any mask (including cloth masks) was better than no mask. All things considered, global mask adoption exceeded our expectations.

But over the last year, as the data mounts and the virus mutates, we’ve asked people to change again. For those who’ve settled into a behavior (wearing a cloth mask), upgrading to a surgical mask or respirator (N95, KN95, KF94) feels like one ask too many.

Adding to the behavioral inertia are legitimate barriers.

Environmental concerns. Many of the people who willingly adopted the cloth mask habit made a similar change a few years ago when they switched to reusable grocery bags. Asking them to ditch their curated set of cloth masks in favor of disposable paper masks may not sit well with people who are concerned about the litter and waste. They likely wouldn’t go back to use one-time grocery bags, so why would they do that for masks?

Access and availability. For the last two years, cloth masks have proliferated. People made their own, companies gave branded versions to employees, and fashionistas used masks to show off their individuality. I imagine if I asked you to count up the number of cloth masks you have, it would be a pretty high number. But who’s passing out N95s right now? Access to free or low-cost higher-quality masks continues to be a major barrier.

So what can public health and behavior change communicators do now to encourage people to upgrade their masks and help slow the spread of omicron? Nancy Lee’s Show Me, Help Me, Make Me model holds the key.

Show Me. For a subset of the population, getting the information and education will be enough to help them make the switch. Therefore, influential people should continue to share the research and information through media, social media, and talking with their networks.

Help Me. This is the biggest subset of the population — those who would make the change if they are given the help. Companies who are requiring in-person work should provide N95, KN95, or KF94 masks to their employees; you can even get your logo printed on them now! If you are the “mask ambassador” in your family or friend group, you can gift your loved ones items from groups like Project N95 in the U.S. or at least direct them to the resource.

Make Me. Sometimes education and support need to be paired with requirements to move the final subset of the population to act. Some countries, municipalities, hospitals, and schools are now requiring higher-quality masks, at least until the omicron surge recedes. This is definitely a tool in the behavior change toolbox, and if the right supports are provided (i.e., access to affordable or even free masks) to make compliance possible, now is a good time to use it.

If you are interested in contributing to this thinking, please reach out. Pandemic Action Network hosts a monthly Behavior Change Communications Working Group where we explore questions like these and other strategies to shift behavior and help end the crisis phase of this pandemic. #ThanksForMasking

Thank You

In this pandemic, when time bends and we forget what day, month, or even year it is, it seems impossible that we are about to enter year three of this devastating global crisis. When this started in early 2020, few of us thought we would still be here after all this time: facing another inequitable pandemic response, the spread of yet another dangerous variant, another surge in cases and deaths, another season of plans on hold, and more uncertainties for the future.

Yet amidst all the darkness, our partnership has been a bright spot. We have joined together in this collective space recognizing that the challenges are too big and too many for any one single stakeholder or sector to tackle alone. Week after week, month after month, together we are continuing to learn, navigate, and — most importantly — act on the twists and turns of this crisis, and hold leaders accountable.

So from our global Pandemic Action Network team
to all of our partners around the world and across sectors, THANK YOU.

Thank you for proactively collaborating to advance critical issues such as vaccine equity, transparency, sustainable financing, governance, and so much more.
Thank you for showing up and rolling up your sleeves to contribute your ideas and energy in our working groups.
Thank you for being generous with your expertise, intelligence, resources, influence, and precious time.

We know that pandemic fatigue has set in and that many organizations and leaders are already turning to other priorities. That makes our collective efforts through this Network even more essential. Our job is to stay in the fight and do whatever it takes to end this crisis around the world and to prevent a deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.

Thank you for staying in the fight with us. And we know it’s critical to make sure we all take a moment to rest and recharge to prepare for the next round. So here’s wishing you and yours a safe, healthy, and joyous holiday season and new year. We look forward to our continued journey together next year, and working to do whatever it takes to end this crisis and prevent the next.

Together, let’s make 2022 the year that we can finally turn the corner on this crisis and lay the foundation for a healthier, safer world.

New Study and Documentary Reveal Grim Pandemic Realities for America’s Doctors and Nurses

Frontline workers say they need more preparation, staff, and PPE and better information and diagnostics

November 18, 2021, Seattle, WA—Today, the Pandemic Action Network released new research findings revealing challenges that continue to burden doctors and nurses in the U.S. well over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and pointing to what is required to be better prepared for this crisis and future pandemic threats. Notably, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) continues to be a problem — with nearly a third of doctors and nurses saying they did not have sufficient access to PPE, even as recently as summer 2021. Sixty-one percent felt that they did not have sufficient early warning to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite best efforts, a third felt it was challenging to follow changing workflows and protocols.

The study, funded by Flu Lab, included a survey conducted by Klick Consulting of 532 doctors and nurses from across the U.S. The survey focused on addressing perceptions of pandemic readiness, knowledge, containment, treatment, and vaccination. Additional qualitative interviews with nearly four dozen health officials, public health workers, doctors, and nurses, revealed a stark reality: while healthcare workers are committed to caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have faced increased personal risks and an exceptionally high work volume. And they need more support.

Dr. Carrie Tibbles, an ER physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, participated in this research. “Healthcare systems are really stressed right now, and the workforce is tired. Hospitals need support to build back up — and build our workforce back up — so we can take care of our communities,” said Dr. Tibbles. “The pandemic hit us so hard and in Boston, we felt the first wave shortly after New York. We were able to learn in real time from our friends and colleagues in New York and I’m confident we saved many lives as a result. But if we were armed with the tools to be better prepared for pandemics, I know we could do more.”

These stories further come to life in the new documentary, The First Wave, premiering today in New York at the DOC NYC festival and showing in select theaters tomorrow. The film focuses on the doctors, nurses, and patients from one of New York’s hardest-hit hospital systems during the “first wave” from March to June 2020. By laying bare what healthcare workers braved in hospitals flooded with COVID patients, The First Wave honors both their ongoing commitment to their patients, as well as their own personal sacrifice.

“The study results and the harrowing realities presented in The First Wave make one thing clear: we need to listen to doctors and nurses,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, co-founder of Pandemic Action Network. “Hailing health workers as heroes is insufficient — we must ensure they have the information and equipment to do their jobs effectively — before, during, and after a crisis.”

Survey participants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share their perspectives. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my pandemic experience and opinions… It is a rarity that we are asked about our experience,” said one participant. Another shared, “Thanks for working to improve our processes and systems for the next time this happens (hopefully never).”

“Healthcare workers around the country have been stretched to their breaking points countless times over the course of the pandemic. As a group, we have been labeled heroes, but healthcare workers are only human, and resilience is waning in the face of exhaustion and burnout,” said Dr. Kelly C. Sanders, a pediatrician and Pandemic Action Network member. Dr. Sanders also serves as the technical lead for the Pandemic Response Initiative at UCSF and co-authored a case study on the first year of the pandemic in the U.S. “As a country, if we don’t continue to improve frontline conditions, we risk losing desperately needed healthcare workers. We need to improve local vaccination rates, develop new diagnostic and treatment options, and provide more resources for our stressed public health and hospital systems. This is how the American public and decision-makers can show up for the frontline now.”

To respond to the findings of this study, Pandemic Action Network is calling on U.S. policymakers to:

  • Fully resource and accelerate the global COVID-19 response by allocating at least US$17 billion of new funding to assist the world in reaching 70 percent vaccine coverage in every country by the middle of 2022; save lives now through increased access to other lifesaving tools; and prevent future pandemics from occurring. Learn more.
  • Provide ongoing funding for surge capacity and measures that prioritize the safety and security of healthcare workers.
  • Approve the International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act, in tandem with the Global Health Security Act to strengthen America’s cross-government coordination on pandemic preparedness and response and bolster our support for global preparedness.
  • Approve legislation to strengthen America’s Strategic National Stockpile to ensure adequate PPE and medical supplies for healthcare workers.
  • Approve the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals.
  • Approve a resolution that would designate the first Monday in March as “COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day” to memorialize those lost to the COVID-19 virus and recognize the suffering of COVID-19 survivors.

More details of the research and survey results can be found here.

About Pandemic Action Network

Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to end the COVID-19 crisis and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network is a robust partnership of over 140 global multi-sector organizations aligned in a belief that every effort made in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a long-term legacy. One where humanity is better prepared to deal with outbreaks and prevent a deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.

About Klick Consulting
Klick Consulting solves the problems others can’t by leveraging applied sciences and novel thinking to decode healthcare’s gnarliest challenges. The consultancy embraces science at the speed of business with a specific focus on commercial solutions with real-world applications. With its diverse team of medical, behavioral science, data science, engineering, business model, machine learning, and strategic design experts, the multidisciplinary, collaborative group resolves business problems through a scientific lens. Klick Consulting works with companies across the healthcare spectrum, including consumer wellness, pharmaceutical, device manufacturers, insurers, health systems, and providers.

CONTACT:
Courtney Morris (U.S. west coast)
[email protected]

Jaryd Leady (U.S. east coast)
[email protected]

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Announcing the Pandemic Action Network Ambassadors Program

We all feel it — the widespread desire and urgency to move on from the pandemic that has engulfed our lives for nearly the past two years. But we will only move on when the work is done and the work is far from over. COVID-19 continues to rage around the world and leaders have yet to take the bold actions needed to ensure we are better prepared and protected from future pandemic threats. In the cycle of “panic and neglect,” — defined by initial response to the crisis, but failing to act on long-term lessons and actually change the contributing factors of the crisis — we are teetering on neglect.

Pandemic Action Network was built to ensure that we not only end this crisis for everyone around the world, but to prevent the old cycle of “panic and neglect” from happening again. To achieve these goals, our partnership of over 140 diverse organizations is working to create the ongoing political will needed for action.

Numbers and research insights are helpful, but alone they are not enough to drive leaders to do what must be done to end this crisis and prevent the next pandemic. Leaders need personal reasons to act — they need to hear the personal stories, experiences, and challenges of the ongoing realities of living through this pandemic because, while many want to look at COVID in the rear-view mirror, we know that this crisis is far from over and will persist without action.

That’s why we are launching our new Pandemic Action Network Ambassadors Program.

Pandemic Action Ambassadors come in many forms — those who worked on the frontlines, parents balancing child care alongside their day job, people who have lost loved ones, people who have lost livelihoods, and those who have seen the impact of political inaction. Pandemic Action Ambassadors are people who care, people who are willing to stand up and speak up about the urgency of ending this crisis, building systems at every level to prepare humanity for future health threats, and learning the lessons of this pandemic.

We invite these people to come together and share their personal experiences to help us advance COVID-19 response and pandemic preparedness. Along with a community of other Ambassadors, you will receive monthly emails with small but impactful ways to take action, the opportunity to connect with one another and engage in critical advocacy efforts. The priority application window is open through Tuesday, November 30 at 11:59pm ET. Apply now!

Your story and your voice are key to driving the progress we so desperately need. Together, we have the power to end this crisis and prevent the next pandemic.

A Radical Network — What We’re Learning in Collective Action

This pandemic has challenged our individual and collective assumptions of who we are, how we work, and what we want. Unprecedented challenges demand that we think and act differently. When we launched Pandemic Action Network in April 2020, it was with the knowledge that the challenges of pandemic preparedness and response are too big and too many for any one single stakeholder or sector, but together we can make an impact.

Over the past year, our Network has grown from 25 partners to more than 140 diverse partners spanning the globe, sectors, and points of view. To better understand how to make the most of our growing Network, we recently conducted a partner survey, to which 60 partners — from civil society organizations, private sector business, philanthropies, multilateral organizations, consultancies, and creative agencies — responded. Based on our survey and our day-to-day experience wielding the window of political opportunity to stay open, we’ve documented six lessons we’ve learned so, as our Network grows, we increase — not dilute — our opportunity for impact. Some are new revelations. Some are not. But they deserve to be documented again, lest we all forget. Now is certainly not the time to go back to business as usual.

Break, then smash, silos. Don’t get us wrong, we love expertise, but this work requires that we look beyond our own silos to share knowledge, identify opportunities, and act together. The Network is built to do precisely that. In our recent partner survey, on average, respondents shared that their work crosses into three Network focus areas. One partner shared, “We are grateful for our partnership and appreciate the ability to elevate our advocacy priorities into broader pandemic prevention and response policy discussions.” Pandemic Action Network is the connection point between various organizations, priorities, and discussions — the place where the dots and the roads connect.

It’s not about you and your brand. It’s about impact. Another way to say this is: check your ego. Our co-founder Gabrielle Fitzgerald recently wrote in Stanford Social Innovation Review about the power of putting ego aside, referencing Pandemic Action Network and the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa. She writes, in reference to our World Mask Week campaigns, “It didn’t matter whose hashtag got the most mileage. What mattered was, by the end of that week, billions of people around the world had heard that wearing a mask was one of the simplest and most valuable things they could do to protect themselves and other people. Had each of us prioritized our own individual campaigns, we never would have had that kind of reach.” As the pandemic persists, we call on all in our Network to continue to resist the urge to lead with ego and competition. When we set aside our own visibility, we can collectively amplify priority issues, calls-to-action, and messaging.

Slow down to go faster. We must admit, we are not always good at heeding this lesson;  “Action” is in our name afterall. But what is clear from our recent partner survey is that there is a deep need to pause, discuss big picture context, see around corners together, and make meaning of the messy details. One partner touted the value of “interactive brainstorming” when that has often been lost during our remote work lives. Together, we are seeking and finding value in the unstructured conversations — opportunities for growth and inspiration outside of the bubbles of our day-to-day priorities and patterns of our respective home offices. In response, we have refashioned our Coordination Meetings to be monthly “Virtual Stages” on big picture issues, trends, insights, and perspectives. Working groups balance it out with weekly and biweekly time to get in the trenches of strategizing and activating together. And, based on our recent survey, working groups are delivering on a number of levels. One partner defined the working groups as “the informal networking that is impossible during COVID.” Another shared, “Working groups give us a chance to network and discuss policies, health advocacy, as well as bringing insights and opportunities for us to be a part of creating the solutions with various communities.”

Take note of who is at the table. We’ve built a diverse ever-growing Network, but who do we see and hear from most? How can we be more intentional about leveraging the expertise of our full Network? This is our challenge ahead. From how we connect to how we communicate, we are focused on shining the light on and amplifying our partners.

How we show up matters. This work is challenging. We are here for the challenge, but also here for the rich benefit of working with brilliant, thoughtful, and generous people around the world. We will say again, because it is not said enough: kindness is key to this work.

Color outside the lines. Now is the time for bold thinking and action. If not now, when? This Network is here to be relentless in our effort to end the COVID-19 crisis for everyone around the world and ensure that this crisis leaves a legacy — one where humanity is better prepared to deal with outbreaks and prevent a deadly and costly pandemic from happening again. That takes a willingness to color outside the lines and creative solution-making.

As this pandemic persists, the Network is proving itself critical to the response to COVID-19, but also for what is to come. One partner noted, “I believe as the current pandemic subsides, it will be key to keep people engaged on the next topic, such as global health security or the public health system.” We agree. Every day we are inspired by the collective action of this growing Network. We are here to connect, collaborate, and catalyze impact together. If you have ideas on how the Network can be a platform for action on our shared goals, reach out!

Together, we achieve more.

Bridging the Innovation Gap to Prevent the Next Pandemic — Policy Brief

The world was woefully unprepared to prevent or rapidly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the result of decades of failure by national and global policymakers to address pandemics as a systemic and growing threat. A glaring weakness is that the ecosystem for pandemic preparedness research and development (R&D) — the system that is meant to develop vaccines, treatments, and other tools for known and unknown health threats — is rife with market and systems failures that prevent it from operating efficiently, effectively, and equitably.

While pandemics can affect the whole world and create large, global markets for vaccines, treatments, and other technologies, those markets have repeatedly failed to respond with the foresight and urgency needed to match the scale, scope, and unpredictability of pandemic threats. The world must urgently address the persistent market and systems failures in the global health R&D ecosystem to prepare for the next pandemic threat.

This policy brief, prepared by Pandemic Action Network, covers the market and systems failures in the pandemic preparedness R&D ecosystem and lays out the unique role that the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) plays in leveraging partnerships and incentives to counter the failures as one key step in building a smarter, more effective and equitable pandemic R&D ecosystem.

Read the policy brief here and the full analysis here.

Statement from the Pandemic Action Network on the Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better to Prepare for the Next

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the leadership of President Biden and the United States Government in hosting today’s Global COVID-19 Summit. The purpose of today’s event was to secure commitments to take action on the Summit goals and targets. The Network thanks all of the leaders who joined and made commitments to achieve the Summit’s goals to get 70% of the population in every country vaccinated within 12 months, to step up efforts to deliver lifesaving oxygen, therapeutics, tests, and personal protective equipment to patients and health workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, and to scale up investments and strengthen the international system to ensure the world is better prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to future pandemic threats.

Among the new announcements today — that will serve as critical first steps toward the bolder, coordinated global action needed — include: The U.S. pledge to purchase and donate an additional 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries, bringing the total number of vaccines to be donated globally by the U.S. to 1.1 billion; the establishment of an EU-US task force to work together toward the 70% target, and EU commitment to ensure 1 in 2 doses produced in Europe will be exported to the rest of the world; U.S. commitment of  US$345 million for the global COVID-19 response; U.S. plans to provide US$1 billion to establish a new fund for global health security; and new commitments by philanthropies Skoll Foundation (US$100 million) and Pax Sapiens (US$200 million) to bolster pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd said:

“The success of this Summit will be judged by what happens next. We urge leaders to use every tool at their disposal to map out where every country is right now, and what finances and logistics are needed to deliver jabs in arms faster, getting us over the line to 70% vaccination coverage in each country, while ensuring access for all for lifesaving tests, treatments, oxygen and PPE along the way. Piecemeal actions are no longer enough. This crisis demands not only commitment, but a coordinated global plan and leadership. To end the COVID-19 crisis in 2022, we need to do whatever it takes — and we will hold leaders to account to make it happen.”

Pandemic Action co-founder Carolyn Reynolds said:

“Today’s Summit was a critical reset of the world’s ambition to end this pandemic for all as quickly as possible, and to start making the necessary investments now to bolster our collective defenses to prevent the next deadly and costly pandemic from happening. But we are in a race against time. There has been a collective failure to date to solve this crisis and treat pandemics as the grave threat they are to global security. We need urgent, bold, and concrete action, and we need it now. We welcome President Biden’s plan to host another summit early next year to make sure the world is on track to achieve the Summit goals and targets. We stand ready to work with all leaders to ensure that this Summit leaves a legacy to pandemic proof the world once and for all.”

In advance of today’s Summit, Pandemic Action Network brought more than 60 groups together around a common position on what’s needed to end this crisis. At today’s Summit, on behalf of our Network, we committed to two things:

1. On the COVID-19 response, we will work with our partners and with leaders to ensure the commitments made today are delivered through a global action plan to do whatever it takes to fully vaccinate 70% of the population in every country in less than 12 months — and at least 40% by the end of this year.

To get there, we must dramatically ramp up support now for vaccine donations, manufacturing, and delivery; development and deployment of testing and treatments, oxygen and PPE; and a strong frontline health workforce to reach the most vulnerable communities.

2. To build back better, we commit to help mobilize the political support and resources necessary to establish a new fund for global health security and a new Global Health Threats Council. We will convene and tap the deep expertise and capabilities in our Network across sectors to inform their design and ensure they are inclusive, accountable, and sustainably funded, commensurate with the threat.

Experts Call on World Leaders to Commit to a Global Plan of Attack on COVID at Summit

More than 60 Leading Organizations across Civil Society, Academia, Philanthropy, Health, and Social Enterprise Define a 6-Point Plan to End the Global COVID-19 Crisis

September 20, 2021, Seattle, WA – This week, hosted by the United States, world leaders will gather virtually for the Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending The Pandemic And Building Back Better. According to a group of experts convened by the Pandemic Action Network, the summit is an opportunity to kickstart a global coordinated response plan. As the pandemic persists and the gap between the vaccine haves and have nots grows larger, the Network and partners from around the world welcomes the summit and the targets defined by the Biden Administration, but warns that without specific, concrete action driven by transparent leadership and accountability, we will see millions more COVID-19 infections, deaths, and chances for virus mutations. The Framework for a Global Action Plan for COVID-19 Response, backed by 61 organizations, outlines a 6-point global plan of attack to deliver on the summit targets.

“We are 18 months into this crisis, and we still don’t have a global plan to address this global pandemic,” said Eloise Todd, co-founder of Pandemic Action Network. “This year’s UN General Assembly and the Biden Administration’s summit must be a step change to how we are tackling this crisis. We need leaders to attend this summit, commit to ensuring that 40% of the world’s population gets vaccinated by the end of the year and 70% by mid-2022. Leaders must roll up their sleeves to take the action needed, delivering all the tests, treatments, PPE, and of course vaccines to achieve this ambition. This pandemic is incubating the next one — it’s time to do whatever it takes to end the COVID crisis for everyone in 2022.”

“The staggering global inequality in vaccine access is costing lives, fracturing the world even more, and compromising global cooperation in all other critical areas such as climate change,” said Pascal Lamy. “Vaccinating the world is a solvable problem. But it will require much stronger coordinated action to correct the course and put us firmly on track to end the devastating effects of the pandemic. We’ve defined what must be done, and we now need leadership and accountability.”

Pascal Lamy is President of the Paris Peace Forum and former director-general of the WTO, and one of the 20 individuals and more than 60 organizations that have signed on to the framework, including Care, the CDC Foundation, the Future Africa Forum, Global Citizen, the International Rescue Committee, ONE, PATH, Sabin Vaccine Institute, Save the Children, the United Nations Foundation, VillageReach, and Women in Global Health as well as the Paris Peace Forum.

In order to end the COVID-19 crisis and prepare for the next, Pandemic Action Network, COVID Collaborative, multiple centers at Duke University, and more than 60 global partners are calling on world leaders to:

  1. Strengthen global leadership and accountability. Strong, sustained political leadership and accountability is needed to coordinate and galvanize the many existing multilateral and bilateral responses.
  2. Develop and implement a Global COVID-19 Response Roadmap. Leaders should develop and agree to an end-to-end, fully costed roadmap to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, which should include specific, timebound commitments and steps.
  3. Empower a Global Task Force for Supply Chain and Manufacturing. This Task Force should be part of the global leadership framework and should expand production of vaccine inputs, vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, and other life-saving interventions.
  4. Accelerate sharing of vaccines and other life-saving interventions.
  5. Prioritize strengthening country-level distribution and delivery capabilities. Recognizing that country-level distribution, delivery, and demand-generation are quickly becoming the key constraints in the race between vaccines and variants.
  6. Increase multi-year financing for the pandemic response and preparedness in low- and middle-income countries. Funding must be additional and must match the scope and urgency of the COVID-19 response and close critical global gaps in pandemic preparedness.

 

“We are in a race against time. The world has the resources and the ingenuity to end the COVID-19 crisis, but we need leaders to step up to meet the moment with the urgency that it deserves,” said Gary Edson, president of the COVID Collaborative.

“This is about leadership and accountability. If the global COVID-19 response remains rudderless and fragmented, without real levers for accountability, all well-meaning commitments will have little impact,” added Krishna Udayakumar, founding director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.

The full framework with a 6-point action plan is available here.

About Pandemic Action Network

Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to end the COVID-19 crisis and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network is a robust partnership of over 140 global multi-sector organizations aligned in a belief that every effort made in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a long-term legacy. One where humanity is better prepared to deal with outbreaks and prevent a deadly and costly pandemic from happening again. Learn more at: pandemicactionnetwork.org.

About Paris Peace Forum

For the fourth consecutive year, the Paris Peace Forum brings together the most important players in collective intelligence. Heads of state and government and CEOs of major multinationals, as well as several civil society actors, will gather for a unique hybrid edition from November 11 to 13 to advance concrete solutions to the enormous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to improve global governance post COVID.

About COVID Collaborative

The COVID Collaborative is a national assembly of experts, leaders and institutions in health, education, and the economy and associations representing the diversity of the country to turn the tide on the pandemic by supporting global, federal, state, and local COVID-19 response efforts. COVID Collaborative includes expertise from across Republican and Democratic administrations at the federal, state and local levels, including former FDA commissioners, CDC directors, and U.S. surgeon generals; former U.S. secretaries of Education, Homeland Security, Defense and Health and Human Services; leading public health experts and institutions that span the country; leading business groups and CEOs; groups representing historically excluded populations; major global philanthropies; and associations representing those on the frontlines of public health and education.

About Duke Global Health Innovation Center, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke Global Health Institute

The Duke Global Health Innovation Center, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, and Duke Global Health Institute work cooperatively to synthesize research on global and public health and advance evidence-based policies that support strong public health systems at all levels of government. Work on this initiative represents the individual expertise of the researchers involved and not necessarily the views of the administration of Duke University.

Addressing Market Failures: The Role of CEPI in Bridging the Innovation Gap to Prevent the Next Pandemic

The global response to COVID-19 not only shows that the world was ill-prepared to prevent and respond to a pandemic caused by a novel respiratory pathogen, but also that there are an array of system and market failures in global health research and development (R&D). Solving for these failures ― and building a ready and sustainable R&D ecosystem for pandemic preparedness ― will be critical to advancing global health security and preventing future infectious disease outbreaks from becoming the next deadly and costly pandemic.

Addressing Market Failures: The Role of CEPI in Bridging the Innovation Gap to Prevent the Next Pandemic, produced by Volta Capital, Pandemic Action Network, and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC), examines global health R&D failures to help inform policy and funding decisions to bolster preparedness and response for emerging pandemic threats. In particular, the paper considers the unique role of CEPI in addressing some of these failures, its strengths and challenges in the COVID-19 response, and the role it can play through its new strategy to bolster future epidemic and pandemic preparedness.

Key findings of the paper include:

  • Longstanding and persistent market and systems failures in global health R&D, especially for vaccines against novel pathogens, have left the world at grave risk of deadly and costly pandemics.
  • The world cannot wait for the next pandemic to bolster investments in R&D and preparedness for emerging infectious disease threats.
  • CEPI has a key role to play in a better prepared global R&D ecosystem.

To learn more, read the full analysis Addressing Market Failures: The Role of CEPI in Bridging the Innovation Gap to Prevent the Next Pandemic and the accompanying policy brief.

Share the key messages using our social media toolkit.

Framework for a Global Action Plan for COVID-19 Response

We are at an exceedingly perilous and urgent moment in the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Delta variant has demonstrated, we are fighting a virus that doesn’t respect borders and rapidly advances across continents. If the virus continues to circulate unchecked in large parts of the world, we will see not only many more millions of infections and deaths, but also new variants that could totally pierce vaccine immunity, returning the world to square one. The global COVID-19 crisis demands leadership and a global plan of attack. A coordinated, global response, the only possible successful response to the pandemic, must be grounded in equity at all levels – global, regional, national, subnational and community. An “all hands on deck” crisis response must deploy all available resources and capabilities – multilateral and bilateral, public and private sector. A robust and effective response to the current crisis is also the best foundation for health systems strengthening and future pandemic preparedness. World leaders should therefore urgently convene a “Global Pandemic Response and Vaccination Summit” and commit to urgent actions detailed in our Framework For a Global Action Plan for COVID-19 Response. Read more here.

An “all hands on deck” crisis response must deploy all available resources and capabilities – multilateral and bilateral, public and private sector. A robust and effective response to the current crisis is also the best foundation for health systems.

Calling for a New Multilateral Financing Mechanism for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness

People and countries around the world continue to suffer from the devastating human, economic, and social costs of being unprepared for a deadly pandemic like COVID-19. This crisis is a call-to-action. World leaders must seize this opportunity to leave a legacy of a healthier and safer world — starting with a new global financing mechanism that provides robust and sustained investments in pandemic prevention and preparedness. At the 2021 United Nations General Assembly, world leaders should launch a 100-day action plan to establish and resource a new financing mechanism, or Fund, that can mobilize at least US$10 billion annually over the next five years to bolster global health security and pandemic preparedness. History has shown time and again that if action is not taken during a crisis, then political will dissipates once the crisis fades from view. An expedited timeline for establishing the Fund will provide a critical new tool for the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts and create continuity between the pandemic response and recovery activities while bridging to escalated and sustained efforts on pandemic preparedness.  This policy brief, prepared by contributors from the Center for Global Development, Pandemic Action Network, and Nuclear Threat Initiative, is intended to inform and guide ongoing conversations among governments and non-governmental stakeholders on the parameters and design of the new Fund and action plan. Read the policy brief here.
This policy brief, prepared by contributors from the Center for Global Development, Pandemic Action Network, and Nuclear Threat Initiative, is intended to inform and guide ongoing conversations among governments and non-governmental stakeholders on the parameters and design of the new Fund and action plan.

The COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa Was Supposed to Be a Short-Term Solution: A Year Later, the Need is Still There

BY GABRIELLE FITZGERALD, CEO AND FOUNDER OF PANORAMA & CO-FOUNDER OF PANDEMIC ACTION NETWORK

Over the past year, the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa distributed 81.6 million units of personal protective equipment (PPE) to almost 500,000 community health workers in 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa is a radically collaborative initiative that was co-founded by Pandemic Action NetworkCommunity Health Impact CoalitionDirect ReliefCommunity Health Acceleration Partnership, and VillageReach.

“All regions are at risk, but none more so than Africa.” — WHO Director General Tedros

I previously wrote about some of the strategies­­ that have been vital to the success of this initiative: we formed a loose partnership, we moved fast and there were no organizational or individual egos. As a result, between August and December 2020, CAF-Africa was the fifth largest procurement mechanism of PPE in the world.

Where are we today?

Today, we are eighteen months into the global pandemic. Last week, the World Health Organization’s Director General Tedros said, “All regions are at risk, but none more so than Africa.” And Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the organization’s lead for Africa warned: “Be under no illusions, Africa’s third wave is absolutely not over . . . Many countries are still at peak risk and Africa’s third wave surged up faster and higher than ever before.”

Sadly, the stop-gap measure we put into place a year ago is still needed, and major systemic challenges remain:

  • There is still limited visibility into PPE needs at the country and global levels.
  • There is no single regional body that quantifies cross-country PPE needs, tracks pipeline, and aggregates needs and gaps.
  •  The PPE market remains fragmented.

In order to create sustainable solutions, we believe it’s critical to:

  • Invest in strengthening the procurement options available to support countries to meet their PPE and other supply needs, during the pandemic and beyond; and
  • Continue to explore models to pool the philanthropic dollars going to medicines and supplies for health workers.

This post originally appeared on Medium

Why Masking Up Matters More Than Ever

By Gabrielle Fitzgerald, CEO and Founder of Panorama & Co-Founder of Pandemic Action Network

In May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told vaccinated Americans they could take off their masks. Many public health officials and advocates, including the Pandemic Action Network, questioned this shift, especially as so many Americans remained unvaccinated. In response, Anne Hoen, an epidemiologist at Dartmouth College, said, “Wearing masks should probably be one of the last things we stop doing.” This statement has stuck with me. To protect the most vulnerable, the unvaccinated and actually stop the spread of COVID-19, we need to deploy all our tools until the end.

And when it comes to wearing a mask, the science is clear: masking in public can provide another layer of protection and help prevent the virus from spreading to others who aren’t protected, regardless of vaccination status.

Now two months after the CDC guidance shift, we are seeing accelerated spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. In the U.S., every state is reporting increasing COVID-19 cases, thus demonstrating that relying on the honor system and local guidance alone is insufficient.

“Vaccines do not equal the end of the pandemic,” my Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd shared with Forbes. “With vaccines and other precautions like face masks, we moved so close to normal. Why would we now move away from these measures?”

I agree. More than ever, it’s important that we stay focused on what can keep us all safe.

This month the Pandemic Action Network once again catalyzed our network of 130+ partners to ignite a global movement around the importance of continued masking.

With #ThanksForMasking selfies from leaders from Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, to Smita Sabharwal, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros, and Dr. Tom Frieden and key messages shared by organizations like UNICEF, Africa CDC, and 3M, this year’s World Mask Week campaign reached 250M+ people and was shared in 171 countries, or nearly 90% of countries around the world.

(Side note, if you’re interested in partnering with us to reach communities in the other 25 countries we didn’t reach, like Burkina Faso, Cyprus, and Chad, we’d love to talk!)

World Mask Week 2021 came at an absolutely critical time in the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries, like the U.S., with access to vaccines were in the process of opening up, dropping mask-wearing guidance, and ignoring the fact that the pandemic is very much not over for the majority of people around the world. In fact, countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, and many others in Africa and Latin America, are suffering some of their worst peaks of this pandemic yet. And, they are not alone, the more contagious Delta variant is sparking COVID-19 spikes around the globe, including countries with relatively high vaccination rates, such as the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

But sadly, we have moved away from consistent mask-wearing and World Mask Week was a reminder that not only should we continue to mask up, but we need clear and consistent masking guidance at the national level in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

While World Mask Week turned up the volume of this key call-to-action, there is urgent work to be done to ensure masking up is fundamental to our collective COVID-19 response. The fact is not lost on us that World Mask Week concluded the day before the U.K. celebrated “freedom day.” And, here in the U.S., Los Angeles Country reinstated an indoor masking order amidst an alarming rise in coronavirus cases.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser, recently disclosed that U.S. health officials are actively considering a revision to the mask guidance. However, as of this article’s publish date, the Center for Disease Control has not updated their guidance for full vaccinated individuals. As we shared in a policy brief this month, masking still matters, and governments, businesses, and individuals all have a role to play in normalizing mask-wearing to protect those who are most vulnerable and to end this pandemic for everyone.

That’s why we’re so thankful for all of our partners who participated in World Mask Week this year and helped amplify our collective #ThanksForMasking call-to-action. And, we will continue to rally around this issue and not mask the truth when it comes to the importance of the simple and effective act of mask-wearing.

#ThanksForMasking and continue to mask up until we end this pandemic for everyone.

World Mask Week 2021 Catalyzes a Global Movement to Continue Masking Up

People, leaders, and organizations around the world rallied behind the ongoing importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 and end the pandemic for all!

Pandemic Action Network, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, 3M, and more than 70 partner organizations launched World Mask Week 2021 with two goals in mind. First to unite the globe around a simple message: masking in public is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19. The second, to show gratitude for those who have masked throughout this pandemic and continue to do so via the message #ThanksForMasking.

World Mask Week came at a pivotal time in the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Delta variant fueling Africa’s third wave, record numbers of cases in countries around the world, and increased spread from Indonesia and Bangladesh to Colombia and South Africa. The campaign was made even more relevant as the U.K. and U.S., countries with relatively high vaccination rates, debated masking guidance and reopening despite a marked increase in cases.

Over the course of one week — July 12-18 — World Mask Week met the moment.:

 

Beyond the conversation taking place on social media, Forbes published a strong piece about the importance of continued masking and featured quotes from Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd alongside partner content. In addition, Triple Pundit made the business case for ongoing masking noting that “World Mask Week shouldn’t just be a 2020 or 2021 thing. Wearing masks has become one of the most effective ways to stall the spread of diseases, and companies seeking to check some ESG boxes would be wise to support such a global effort.”

What now?
While World Mask Week turned up the volume of this urgent issue, we still need clear and consistent masking guidance at the national level in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Pandemic Action team published a policy briefing called “Why Masking Still Matters” that includes key messaging regarding the importance of continued masking and recommendations for governments, businesses, and individuals. This document will drive Network-wide ongoing advocacy efforts to accelerate clear and consistent masking guidance.

Overall, we learned that responding with urgency is worth it. People around the world — especially those who are bearing the brunt of this raging pandemic — are eager to engage and be a voice for the importance of masking up alongside other interventions such as handwashing, physical distancing, and getting vaccinated when vaccines are available.

Thank you to all of our partners for their dedication to doing whatever it takes to keep the world safe from COVID-19. #ThanksForMasking.

For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.

Your Pandemic Story Matters — Apply for a Pandemic Storytelling Workshop with The Moth

We’ve learned many things during the pandemic, but one is the importance of storytelling and consistent messaging. A compelling story can move people to action, while disinformation can put people’s lives at risk. This means that honing our individual ability to deliver a message can actually help end this pandemic and better prepare for, or even prevent, the next.

But, are we equipped to tell stories that will move decisionmakers to action? As policymakers and advocates respond and analyze the impact of the pandemic, we often talk about big metrics — GDP and job loss numbers — but those analyses fail to account for the individual, social, and economic impact of this global crisis.

Now is the time to sharpen our storytelling skills and amplify community-level experiences and lessons learned. The Moth, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pandemic Action Network, are holding three free-of-charge virtual storytelling workshops to amplify community-level stories from the pandemic’s frontlines. 

If you have a passion for storytelling that can make a difference and a frontline experience from the COVID-19 pandemic, we invite you to learn more and apply.

Please note that the deadline application has passed. To stay in the loop for more opportunities this like this, sign up for our Pandemic Action Playbook. 

Wearing A Mask Still Matters: The World Rallies to Continue Masking to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

World Mask Week (July 12-18) is a global movement to encourage continued mask-wearing to reach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic

July 12, 2021, Seattle, WA—Pandemic Action Network, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, 3M and over 50 global, regional, and local partner organizations announced today the launch of World Mask Week 2021 (July 12-18) — a global campaign underlining a universal truth: masking in public, in combination with handwashing and physical distancing, is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19, especially our most vulnerable community members as countries race to vaccinate their populations.

According to WHO, 2021 is already a deadlier year in the pandemic than 2020. Today, we are seeing a two-track pandemic emerge: some regions are up against the spread of variants and rising case numbers, while others with access to vaccines are lifting masking and other public health restrictions.

“Everyone who has worn a mask in public has helped slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Deputy Director of the Africa CDC, Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma. “As the pandemic continues to spread and access to vaccines has been slow across much of Africa, we must fight against pandemic fatigue and continue to do what we can to keep everyone safe.”

The campaign encourages people and organizations around the world to rally behind the continued importance of wearing a mask. People will be asked to show their support by sharing a statement on social media with #WorldMaskWeek, and a picture, or video with their favorite mask, tagging others with the message of “Thanks For Masking”.

“The pandemic is not over. We should rightly recognize and encourage our progress, but we must also put our expertise to work and stay vigilant in fighting the pandemic,” said Dr. Denise Rutherford, Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, 3M. “3M and our team members will continue to do our part. We are proud to participate in World Mask Week because when you wear a mask, you are helping protect the most vulnerable. To all who are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, we thank you.”

Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing, or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. Consistent mask-wearing can also reduce the spread of the virus among people who are infected with COVID-19, but do not have symptoms, or are unaware they have it. While a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent serious illness and death, the extent to which it keeps people from being infected and passing the virus on to others is still emerging.

“Last year, with the first World Mask Week, we sparked a global movement in 117 countries to wear masks. This year, as the pandemic persists in much of the world, we’re coming together around the message that masking still matters and to show gratitude for those who have worn a mask and continue to mask up,” said Eloise Todd, Co-Founder of the Network. “In order to end this pandemic for everyone, we must deploy all the tools available around the world to fight COVID-19 – and that includes mask-wearing.” To mark the urgency of this moment, Pandemic Action Network has released a Why Masking Still Matters policy brief including key messaging and recommendations for governments, businesses, and individuals.

Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launching, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask-wearing, along with physical distancing and handwashing. World Mask Week provides the opportunity for global unity around a single message: Let’s keep masking — not just for ourselves, but for our families, our communities, those who are most vulnerable, and the world.

For more information about World Mask Week, please visit worldmaskweek.com.

About Pandemic Action Network
Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of more than 100 global multi-sector partners, working both publicly and behind the scenes to inform policy, mobilize public support and resources, and catalyze action in areas of acute need. Partners are aligned in a belief that every effort made in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a longer-term legacy that better prepares humanity to deal with outbreaks and help prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from happening again. Learn more at: pandemicactionnetwork.org.

About the African Union
The African Union leads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the regional economic communities and African citizens. The vision of the African Union is to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous and inclusive Africa, at peace with itself, playing a dynamic role in the continental and global arena, effectively driven by an accountable, efficient and responsive Commission. Learn more at: au.int/en.

About the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programs. Learn more at: africacdc.org.

About 3M
At 3M, we apply science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily as our employees connect with customers all around the world. Learn more about 3M’s creative solutions to global challenges at: 3M.com or on Twitter @3M or @3MNews.

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Take Action for World Mask Week 2021!

A global movement to encourage continued masking to reach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic Action Network is partnering up with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, the World Health Organization, 3M, 50+ other organizations, and countless community leaders around the world to launch World Mask Week 2021 (July 12-18). In case you missed it, #WorldMaskWeek is a movement to encourage sustained mask-wearing to help bring us closer to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for our most vulnerable community members as countries race to vaccinate their populations.

This year, World Mask Week comes as 2021’s pandemic-related deaths surpass those in 2020, variants spread and mutate daily, and a two-track pandemic has emerged — where some regions are up against the spread of variants and rising case numbers, while others with access to vaccines are lifting masking and other public health restrictions (albeit prematurely). On top of these barriers, we are also fighting against pandemic fatigue. We get it. People are tired and the COVID-19 pandemic represents compounding crises and hardship at every level. However, the simple act of covering your face through proper masking could mean protecting your loved ones and yourself as the pandemic persists. 

We know that mask-wearing can reduce the spread of COVID-19. While COVID-19 vaccines help prevent serious illness and death, the extent to which vaccines keep us safe from being infected and passing the virus to others is still emerging. We need to take care of each other and stay focused on what keeps us safe. Masking in public, in combination with handwashing and physical distancing, is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19.

World Mask Week is a time for individuals and organizations alike to rally behind the continued importance of wearing a mask. An act as simple as posting a statement, a photo, or a video with your favorite mask and tagging #ThanksforMasking can show support, reinforce the importance of continued masking, and help propel the movement forward. Through the power of connectivity and social media, we can thank one another and do our part by masking for ourselves, our friends, and our families to protect each other and end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Take action for World Mask Week! The World Mask Week campaign social media toolkit is publicly-available and contains creative assets to help you join the movement and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Join us today by sharing a photo of yourself in your favorite mask and tagging someone to say #ThanksforMasking for #WorldMaskWeek!

Why Masking Still Matters

Eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, as COVID-19 variants spread and the pandemic persists around the world, there are a lot of questions about masking. When do I need to wear a mask? Where do I need to wear a mask? Is masking still needed if I’m vaccinated? In short, to protect those who are most vulnerable and to end this pandemic for everyone, masking still matters — now more than ever. Together immunization, ventilation, hand hygiene, social distancing, and mask-wearing are the best tools we have against COVID-19. No single intervention alone is sufficient to end the pandemic, but face-covering has become increasingly important as lockdowns are eased and people seek a full return to public life. By wearing a mask in public indoor and crowded places, everyone can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. Ending mask requirements too soon will unnecessarily cost many lives. Read our latest policy brief including key messaging and recommendations for governments, businesses, and individuals.

Why Smooth Vaccine Rollout And Social Proof are Key to COVID-19 Acceptance and Trust

Note: Policy recommendations to decision makers available here

Since the world began to entertain viable vaccines as a real prospect in the fight against COVID-19, we have been confronting the challenge of vaccine hesitancy and navigating what is required to address this challenge. While recent surveys show that vaccination intent has been on the rise globally, increasing hopes that the world will be able to turn the tide on the pandemic relatively soon, the dynamic nature of this pandemic shows that vaccination intent and trust correlates to vaccine access, management of vaccine rollout, and social proof.

The challenge of vaccine hesitancy to end the pandemic
Vaccine hesitancy remains a looming threat to the successful rollout of vaccines and the prospect of ending the COVID-19 pandemic globally. The “anti-vax industry” is well-financed and organized, and determined to spread doubt as to the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. A study by Imperial College found that hesitancy around COVID-19 vaccines could lead to thousands of extra deaths. The study, from March 2021, compares current levels of hesitancy compared to the ideal level of uptake. The potential risk is particularly acute in countries like France, where vaccination intent is among the lowest. France could see 8.7 times more deaths in 2021/22 than it would under the ideal level of uptake. This compares to just 1.3 times more in the U.K., which has among the highest vaccination intent.

In many countries, one of the main reasons for vaccine hesitancy is that corners have been cut due to the speed of the clinical trials, and that unknowable long-term side effects potentially exist.

In addition, conflicting public health messages have led to increased mistrust from the public. For example, inconsistent guidance on face-coverings earlier in the pandemic has primed people to distrust proclamations about vaccine safety and efficacy. This has led to many people wanting to “wait and see” real-world proof of safety and efficacy before getting a shot. As a result, a critical element of increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake is building vaccine confidence among this “wait and see” group, the moveable middle.

“Wait and see” approach to COVID-19 vaccines

Because of concerns on the speed of development and potential unknown side effects, a share of the population wants to “wait and see” how the COVID-19 vaccines work for other people before they get vaccinated themselves.

The share of people in this “wait and see” category has declined since vaccines have started rolling out globally.

Smooth rollout and social proof as tools to increase vaccine trust among the “wait and see”
The emerging evidence, including from the U.K. vaccine rollout, shows that social proofing through communication about widespread acceptance and a fast and uninterrupted vaccine rollout seems to increase trust in COVID-19 vaccines. The more people get vaccinated and the more people hear about others getting vaccinated, the more normal it becomes. A study by Rockefeller Foundation from March 2021 found that social proof of others getting immunized and seeing the tangible benefits that come with it might be the most determining factor in motivating people to get vaccinated.1 In their study they found that among U.S. adults who weren’t sure they’ll get the vaccine, 43% said they were waiting for more people to get vaccinated before they do so themselves. Other research found that people are more willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine when hearing about its popularity, suggesting that public health officials should communicate about the growing and widespread intention to get vaccinated among the population rather than overstating vaccine hesitancy. Finally, in a study conducted amongst 18-30 year olds in the U.K., study participants reported slightly stronger intentions to take the vaccine when they learn that 85% of others plan to take the vaccine, versus 45% of others.

The U.K. is a good example of how social proofing and a smooth rollout may help address vaccine hesitancy, particularly among the “wait and see” group. The U.K.’s rollout strategy has been to vaccinate as many people as possible from the start. Within the U.K., the Welsh rollout program has been the speediest in the world, faster than Israel. A key element of that was the decision to delay the administration of second doses in order to get a first dose in as many arms as possible, as quickly as possible. Experts believe that the speed of the U.K. rollout and the decision to delay second doses had an important impact on attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines. Another important component of the U.K. strategy has been to proactively emphasize the widespread uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, for example social media posts such as “Join the millions already vaccinated.” With more and more people knowing or hearing about someone who had had their first vaccination, it helped build momentum as well as create social proof to build trust and convince those in the “wait and see” category to eventually get vaccinated.  

In January, 90% of people in the U.K. said that they would either probably or definitely take a COVID-19 vaccine, up 7% since December, when the rollout started. Just two months later (March 2021), the proportion of adults who said they would not be likely to get vaccinated had more than halved since December — from 14% to just 6%. Between January and March, 53% of adults shifted to a more positive attitude — either already receiving a jab or reporting that they are now more likely to do so. According to Imperial College’s Year Review of ‘COVID-19 Global Behaviours and Attitudes’, of the 29 countries surveyed for study,  the U.K. had the highest intention of vaccination among those not yet vaccinated in April 2021 (67% of those not yet vaccinated), and had the lowest share of respondents who stated they were worried about side-effects (27%).

The U.K. also had a different response to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) blood clotting issues compared to the U.S. and many European countries.  The U.K. did not pause the use of the AstraZeneca shot, instead it simply updated its guidelines advising people with a predisposition to blood clots and those under 30 (in April) and subsequently under 40 (in May), to get an alternative shot. Research and pollings indicate that the U.K.’s ‘restrained reaction’ helped keep hesitancy low. A study found there was no change in the intentions and attitudes of the U.K. public in the aftermath of the blood clot story. A YouGov poll in April suggested this led to only a minor decrease in trust. The number who considered the drug to be unsafe ticked up only slightly, from 9% in March to 13% in April, with still 75% of Britons considering the vaccine to be very or somewhat safe. 

The impact of pauses on vaccine trust globally
After extremely rare cases of blood clots, unlike the U.K., a number of governments in the U.S. and Europe temporarily paused the roll-out of the AstraZeneca or J&J vaccines. These pauses have had a significant impact on public trust, not only in the countries where the rollout was paused, but globally. 

Despite the European Medicines Agency (EMA) safety committee’s recommendation from 11 March “that the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing”, at least 13 European countries paused the use of the AstraZeneca shot. Skepticism in France and Germany increased rapidly after the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine was paused over blood clot concerns in March. In a YouGov poll conducted in March, 32% of Germans said the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe, down from 42% a month before. Confusion also plagued the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in European countries, further tarnishing the shot’s reputation. For example, in February when it finally started using the AstraZeneca vaccine, German health officials decided to restrict its use to people under 65. It took until March 4 for Germany to update its guidelines and recommend AstraZeneca’s use for people over 65. Just 11 days later, on March 15, Germany paused its use entirely for several days over blood clot concerns. Finally, on March 30, Germany officials tweaked their recommendations yet again, limiting its use to people over 60. In the case of France, it all started with a comment by French President Emmanuel Macron in January incorrectly describing the shot as “quasi-ineffective” for people over the age of 65. Like Germany, French officials then also did a U-turn on their age restriction guidelines in addition to pausing the vaccine use for a few days in mid-March.   

In the US, public trust in the safety of the J&J shot was down to 37% after the government paused the rollout in April, compared to 52% before the announcement. A Washington Post-ABC News poll from mid-April found significant mistrust in the J&J vaccine after health officials paused its use with fewer than 1 in 4 Americans not yet immunized willing to get the shot. The Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor found that in early May less than half of Americans believed the J&J vaccine was safe, and concerns about potential side effects had increased among those not yet vaccinated, especially women. About one in five unvaccinated adults say the news caused them to change their mind about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The Monitor also found indications that concerns about side effects from the vaccines in general had increased following the pause, particularly among women. The reputation of the AstraZeneca vaccine that has not been approved for use in the U.S. yet has also been damaged by blood clotting concerns and temporary suspension in Europe. Only 38% of Americans surveyed in April 2021 considered the AstraZeneca vaccine safe.  In contrast, trust in the Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) and Moderna vaccines appeared unaffected. The Ad Council found that conservatives, in particular, increased in skepticism after the J&J pause.2

Even beyond Europe and the U.S., these short pauses and confusion around age restrictions have damaged the reputation of the AstraZeneca and J&J shots around the world, including in low-income settings where they are particularly crucial. Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines that use adenovirus-vector technology have raised hopes of better global access and, in the case of the J&J shot, faster rollout. These vaccines are less expensive, more stable, and easier to distribute than their mRNA-based counterparts from Moderna and Pfizer. Because they are less expensive and easier to store than Moderna’s or Pfizer’s, and the J&J vaccine requires only one dose, these shots have been considered particularly crucial for less developed and hard-to-reach parts of the world. Yet, experts raised concerns that short suspensions in Europe and the U.S. may further hit an already fragile vaccine confidence in low-income countries and threaten to undermine vaccination campaigns in these settings. Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, and Thailand all suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout following pauses in European countries. Concerns about rare blood clots on top of the rubbishing of COVID-19 vaccines by some African leaders and confusion over expiry dates have slowed vaccine uptake across the African continent. Health workers in countries such as Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Malawi noticed growing fears and conspiracy theories, as well as slower demand for vaccines. Africans have expressed their reluctance to use the AstraZeneca shot when Europeans have stopped using it.  At the G7 Vaccine Confidence Summit hosted by the U.K. in June 2021, Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC, highlighted that confidence in Africa was significantly hit by the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in a number of European countries with some African ministries being reluctant to continue the rollout of the vaccine. 

Lessons learned and recommendations
The world has only started its vaccination effort against COVID-19 with millions of people around the globe, particularly in developing countries, still needing to get inoculated against the disease. Yet, lessons can start to be drawn from vaccination programs that started in early 2021.

  • All indications point to the fact that consistent messaging about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and about widespread acceptance, as well as smooth and effective rollouts that build social proof of the safety, efficacy, and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines have been key ingredients to build trust and increase vaccination intent and intake.
  • On the contrary, conflicting public messages and guidance as well as temporary suspensions of the use of certain jabs have created a breeding ground for doubt, fears, and conspiracy theories, not only in the country where they occurred but globally. As Heidi Larson, the founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “Don’t let the ambiguity drag on. Because every day just opens the space for misinformation, disinformation, anxiety, and confusion.”

As they progress in their vaccination campaign and in advance of vaccination delivery, decision-makers should take stock of these lessons learned and quickly adjust their strategy accordingly.

Decision-makers should:

  • Increase vaccine trust through a social proofing strategy. Decision-makers should put social proofing at the heart of their vaccination rollout strategy, learning from best practices in countries that have successfully deployed this approach. Such best practices may include proactively emphasizing the growing and widespread intention/acceptance to get vaccinated of others rather than overemphasizing hesitancy levels. Another way may be, where the supply and timing of the second second for two-dose vaccines is guaranteed, delaying the administration of second doses in order to get a first dose in as many arms as possible, as quickly as possible. Experts believe this can have an important impact on attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines as more people know someone who has been vaccinated.
  • Refrain from temporarily suspending the use of shots over unconfirmed safety concerns (unless recommended by the regulator), and instead take swift decisions to prioritize certain demographics while concerns are being investigated. Total suspension, even when temporary, increases mistrust not only in the countries where the rollout was paused, but globally. For example, the temporary suspension of the use of the AstraZeneca vaccines in a number of European countries despite the EMA’s recommendation to continue to administer the vaccine led to many African countries suspending the use of the shot and increased hesitancy globally, including on the African continent where the AstraZeneca jab is particularly crucial because it is less expensive, more stable, and easier to distribute than the mRNA-based counterparts from Moderna and Pfizer.
  • Always act on scientific advice and follow the regulator recommendation before making any statement on the safety or efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines as well as before introducing any demographic restrictions. Unfounded statements and age restrictions in some European countries early in their roll-out, i.e., limiting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine only to young people, created confusion and a fertile ground for fear and conspiracy theories. Scientific evidence should be very carefully and regularly assessed by decision-makers and their teams before making any decision or statement on the use of COVID-19 vaccines.

_____

1 The research included focus groups among people expressing concerns about getting the vaccine in March 2021 and a message testing study in February 2021
Source: Ad Council | IPSOS National survey conducted April 12-19, 2021

Statement on the Introduction of New U.S. Senate Legislation on International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the bipartisan introduction of the International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act of 2021 (S. 2297) in the U.S. Senate. This bill represents a critical coming together across party lines to step up U.S. global leadership both on the global COVID-19 response and on preparedness to create a world that is better equipped to detect, prevent, and respond to emerging pandemic threats.

“Pandemic Action Network and our more than 120 partners in the United States and around the globe applaud the bipartisan leadership of Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Menendez and Ranking Member Risch to introduce this urgently needed legislation to bolster U.S. global leadership in the COVID-19 response and to help ensure that the world is better organized, better resourced, and better prepared to halt future pandemics,” said Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network. “America will not be safe from COVID-19 or the next deadly and costly global health threat until everyone around the world is safe ― and the next pandemic will not wait. The Menendez-Risch bill rightly sets pandemic preparedness as a top priority for our national and global security.”

As introduced, S.2297 would strengthen the U.S response to the global COVID-19 pandemic to bring an end to this global health and economic crisis. The legislation heeds Pandemic Action Network’s call for a global vaccine roadmap and requires a detailed strategy to accelerate global vaccine distribution for countries most in need. The bill also directs the Biden Administration to work with international partners to establish a new Fund for Global Health Security, which will significantly bolster public and private investments to help low-and-middle-income countries close critical gaps in pandemic prevention, detection, and response. The Fund embraces the calls by the Pandemic Action Network for the establishment of a new, enduring, and catalytic international financing mechanism, and the Network is pleased to see strong alignment to prioritize pandemic financing across the Administration, U.S. House of Representatives, the G20, and now the U.S. Senate bill. The Network is also pleased that the bill seeks to elevate leadership and coordination for international pandemic preparedness activities within the U.S. Government and authorizes U.S. participation in, and funding for, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global initiative to develop new vaccines for epidemic and pandemic threats, including COVID-19 variants.

“This new Senate legislation is an important step to address the longstanding underinvestment in public health systems and pandemic preparedness that allowed COVID-19 to spiral into a global crisis that continues to devastate people around the world,” Reynolds said. “Congress and the Executive Branch must act without delay to ramp up investments to strengthen the  national and global defenses necessary to pandemic proof the planet, commensurate with this growing threat. We have no time to waste.”

 

U.S. Global Health Experts Urge G7 Action to Vaccinate the World Quickly and Equitably

Open Letter to G7 leaders proposes five-point action plan – including sharing of at least one billion doses worldwide this year and striving to vaccinate at least 60% of every country’s population in 2022

WASHINGTON – A coalition of global health experts today called on the Group of Seven (G7) leaders to share at least 1 billion, and aim for 2 billion, vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end of this year, and more urgently help countries distribute and deliver vaccines quickly and equitably across their populations, striving to achieve at least 60%, and ideally 70%, vaccination coverage in every country in 2022.

President Biden and his G7 counterparts will meet at their annual summit on June 11-13 in the United Kingdom, and global vaccination efforts will be on their agenda.

In an Open Letter, representatives of four U.S.-based organizations – Center for Global Development, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), COVID Collaborative, and three units of Duke University – together with the endorsement of renowned global health experts – urged the G7 leaders and member states to use their vaccine expertise and manufacturing capacity to accelerate global access to vaccines while meeting domestic health needs.

The experts said that today’s global vaccine gap is a supply problem and also a massive distribution and delivery challenge. There are alarming gaps in vaccine distribution and delivery capacity across much of the world that require urgent attention and more resources. “Delivery capabilities and vaccine hesitancy, not supply, are likely to be the critical bottleneck to vaccinations in most low- and middle-income countries within the next 6 months,” the letter said.

The letter highlighted that G7 members have unique resources and capabilities, as well as a legacy of high-impact, collaborative leadership during past crises, and that the coming months are a critical period for leaders to address catastrophic outbreaks in many countries, preempt further growth of the virus elsewhere, and prevent the unchecked spread of the virus from spawning new variants that threaten everyone.

The coalition is asking the G7 leaders to adopt an action plan that includes the following initiatives:

  • Establish a G7 Vaccine Emergency Task Force, open to additional nations and organizations, to provide transparency, predictability, and accountability to the global sharing of vaccines and the vaccine marketplace. As G7 members develop excess vaccine supplies beyond what is needed for domestic use, accurate projections based on real-time country data will facilitate more effective and coordinated global vaccination distribution and prioritize countries with the most urgent need.
  • Develop and commit to a path to share at a minimum 1 billion doses, with the aim of 2 billion doses, of G7-authorized vaccines before the end of 2021, and ensure the availability of enough doses to enable broad vaccination in every country as soon as possible in 2022. As supply continues to increase quickly, the G7 and EU should approach dose-sharing with far greater urgency and intensified systematic planning to meet global needs.
  • Implement a coordinated G7 strategy to immediately increase production of high-quality, well-regulated vaccines, with the goal of further increasing access to these vaccines across the rest of the world. This includes addressing distribution bottlenecks, removing export restrictions and other barriers, and cooperating to provide essential raw materials, equipment and supplies over the next several months.
  • Accelerate development of high-quality globally distributed manufacturing capacity by bringing together public and private sector stakeholders and using voluntary licensing agreements, with a focus on Africa, Asia outside of India, and Latin America. This effort will require establishing cooperative agreements that provide access to financing through both public and private sources, including USDFC, IFC/World Bank and local private funding. The G7 should set a target to finalize at least five such public-private agreements by the end of 2021, each leading to the establishment of vaccine manufacturing capacity before the end of 2022.
  • Increase bilateral and multilateral technical and financial support to low- and middle-income countries to enhance their vaccine distribution and delivery capabilities, and address vaccine hesitancy, with three specific goals: achieve demonstrated national vaccination preparedness in each country by the end of 2021; strive for at least 60%, and ideally 70%, vaccination in every country in 2022; and avoid significant excess vaccine stockpiles ahead of pandemic control in all nations.

The health experts said the G7 members are on a path to contain the pandemic in their respective countries, and to meet the moment, must work to assure the fastest possible path to access to billions of doses of high-quality vaccines – and ensure local capacity to deliver them – complementing ongoing multinational efforts.

The signatories to the open letter include the following:

Amanda Glassman
Executive Vice President, Center for Global Development; CEO of CGD Europe; and Senior Fellow
J. Stephen Morrison
Senior Vice President and Director, Global Health Policy Center, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Gary Edson
President, COVID Collaborative
Mark McClellan
Director, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke University
Rachel Silverman
Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development
Katherine Bliss
Senior Fellow, Global Health Policy Center, Center for Strategic and International Studies
John Bridgeland
CEO, COVID Collaborative
Krishna Udayakumar
Director, Duke Global Health Innovation Center, Duke University
Prashant Yadav
Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
Anna McCaffrey
Fellow, Global Health Policy Center, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Anjali Balakrishna
Program Director, COVID Collaborative
Michael Merson
Wolfgang Joklik Professor of Global Health, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University

 

The following individuals have formally endorsed the letter:

Thomas J Bollyky, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
William H. Frist, former US Senate Majority Leader
Helene Gayle, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Chicago Community Trust
Scott Gottlieb, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, and former Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration
Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg, former Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, and former Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Medicine
Amb [ret] Jimmy Kolker, former Assistant Secretary, Global Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services
Jack Leslie, Chairman, Weber Shandwick
Jennifer Nuzzo, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network, and Senior Associate, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS

The full text of the Open Letter can be viewed here.

Now is the Time: EU Must Demonstrate the Political Leadership Needed to End the Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has deeply affected the world, and the effects will be felt for years to come. While scientific progress to fight the virus has been astonishing, the current level of ambition for both the COVID-19 response and what is needed to pandemic-proof the planet does not go far enough. We urge world leaders to apply the same ingenuity, political will, and public-private partnerships that brought us these novel vaccines in record time to speed up efforts to end this pandemic and act on lessons learned.

The scenes emerging from India are a painful reminder that global access to COVID-19 tools is the only way to end this pandemic quickly, and avoid countless deaths and the trillions of euros lost. The longer the virus is able to travel the world, the greater the risk of mutations and the greater the risk that the vaccines we do have will become ineffective. Yet, as of May 2021, just 0.3% of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in low-income countries and COVID-19 deaths in low and lower-middle income countries (LMICs) now account for 30.7% of global deaths, compared to 9.3% a month ago.

At the Global Health Summit this week and the EU leaders summit next week, the EU and its Member States must urgently offer the political leadership needed to deliver vaccines across the world and develop a global roadmap to vaccinate the world. They must coordinate globally so that all efforts to deliver COVID-19 vaccines are costed and mapped, mutually reinforced, and avoid duplication.

As part of this global plan, the EU and its Member States must contribute to fully funding the $18.5 billion gap of the ACT-Accelerator in 2021 and ensuring a fair distribution between the Therapeutics, Diagnostics and Vaccines Pillars, as well as the Health System Connector. Every Member State should contribute its fair share, and the European Commission should contribute at least an additional €1.2 billion. In addition, EU Member States must immediately contribute to the call for high-income countries to share 1 billion vaccine doses by September and 2 billion by the end of the year. EU Member States will have at least 690 million doses more than they need to vaccinate 100% of their populations, and in many  Member States, the supply of COVID-19 vaccines will soon outstrip demand. Several Member States have stepped up with commitments to share doses, and other leaders should urgently follow in their footsteps.

Fully funding ACT-A and sharing vaccine doses are only two, yet essential, elements of the global roadmap to vaccinate the world. The EU must also support all means necessary to increase global supply of COVID-19 tools, including through increasing vaccine manufacturing capacity as soon as possible.

Advocates will be watching whether the EU seizes the opportunity of the Global Health Summit and upcoming European Council to offer the political leadership that has been so desperately needed since the beginning of the pandemic.

Two Ways to Take Action for India Now

Gabrielle Fitzgerald, Co-founder, Pandemic Action Network

This weekend’s sunshine and blue skies had what seemed like the entire population of Seattle outside enjoying the early summer weather.  Everywhere you went, people were enjoying the sunshine—it almost felt like COVID-19 was a bad dream that we’d finally woken up from.

But, we know that isn’t true… The past weeks have marked the highest number of COVID-19 cases the world has recorded to date. Since the beginning of this pandemic, COVID-19 has exposed and amplified our inequities. Now, as the U.S. has accelerated vaccination (even for youth) and has preemptively given Americans the chance to take off their masks and enjoy summer, the pandemic rages around the world.

Most notably, India is in the grips of a terrible and all-too-real nightmare. India currently has the highest daily number of COVID-19 cases and deaths of any country in the world. Official totals from India’s health ministry report 24.6 million total COVID-19 cases and 274,000 deaths. Daily case counts range between 350,000 to 400,000, with most experts believing these numbers are significantly underplaying the extent of the disease.

Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University, believes deaths caused by COVID-19 in India could be closer to 25,000 to 50,000 per day, and new infections happening each day in India could be between two million and five million.

So, while we should celebrate our progress here in the U.S. and hug our loved ones, we must understand that we are not out of the woods. With variants and the nature of COVID-19 waves, we must understand that only together can we truly end this pandemic for everyone. Now is the time to support the needs of India and other countries who are facing dire consequences from the disease, while also advocating for equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and access to life-saving supplies.

On Friday, WHO Director General Tedros spoke of his bittersweet feeling as he received his COVID-19 vaccine.  While he celebrated the “triumph of science,” he lamented the fact that only 0.03% of the vaccine supply is going to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). A New York Times vaccine tracker shows that many countries are yet to administer a single dose of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, access to basic medical supplies like oxygen remains challenging in many countries, as documented by the COVID Oxygen Needs Tracker. According to Dr. Marc Biot, MSF Director of Operations, “Oxygen is the single most important medicine for severe and critical COVID-19 patients. Yet oxygen supply is often insufficient because infrastructure has been neglected in lower- and middle-income countries for decades.” The crisis in India, now spreading to Nepal and other nearby countries, highlights that oxygen is the most critical medicine for people with severe COVID-19 and 18 months into the pandemic, oxygen supply is under-resourced and LMICs are often the last in line.

Stories in the media and from colleagues in India provide devastating details on the crushing burden faced by hospitals and health care providers, as well as stories of entire families being lost to COVID-19 in a matter of days.

While we have seen donations from governments, businesses, and philanthropies to respond to the humanitarian crises in India, they don’t seem to meet the scale of the problem.  And the breadth of these challenges can make it seem as if there is little an individual can do to help, but individuals and organizations can make a difference in this unprecedented situation.

Here are two ways to take action for India now:

Dasra was established more than 20 years ago to channel funds from philanthropists to small non-governmental organizations across the country. Over this time, they have built the capacity of more than 1,000 organizations to provide services to their communities. With the COVID-19 crisis, they set up the #BacktheFrontLine COVID Emergency Fund to provide immediate resources to 50 of their trusted, high-impact partners who work in local communities providing a range of services to respond to the emergency.

Oxygen for India is a new initiative created by Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy. A long-time health researcher currently based in Delhi, Ramanan quickly mobilized a large network of partners to provide reusable oxygen cylinders and 3,000 oxygen concentrators for hospitals in Delhi and Kolkata. This volunteer-led program has utilized local knowledge and relationships with global connections to procure 40,000 oxygen cylinders.  When an emergency hits, a catalytic coalition made up of individuals and organizations who jump in to help can sometimes move quicker than large, established organizations with complex procurement processes and bureaucracies.

These are two of the many organizations who desperately need funding, and both organizations can receive tax deductible donations from U.S. citizens.

While we in the U.S. are reconnecting with family and friends we haven’t seen in a year, please take a moment to think of the desperate need of so many families in India and other countries around the world.

And for those who are celebrating the end of COVID-19 in the U.S., India should be a cautionary tale.  Less than six weeks before the surge of new coronavirus infections, government officials said India was at “the endgame” of the pandemic.  At that time, India had 11,000 cases per day, and an average of about 100 deaths.  Here in the U.S., we still have almost 800 deaths per day.

We are still fighting this pandemic. In today’s interconnected world, COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere.

 

Pandemic Action Network Statement on the Report of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Make It the Last Pandemic

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the long-awaited report from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (The Independent Panel): COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, which assesses the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and recommends steps world leaders should take to end this pandemic and prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from ever happening again. 

Pandemic Action Network co-founder Carolyn Reynolds said, “The Independent Panel’s report affirms what Pandemic Action Network has long stressed: That despite repeated warnings over many years, the world was woefully unprepared to mobilize with the urgency, speed, and scale required to prevent an emerging infectious disease outbreak from escalating into a devastating and costly pandemic, whose health and socio-economic impacts will be felt for years, if not decades. As the Independent Panel rightly notes, COVID-19 was a preventable disaster — one that continues to prey on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in countries at all levels of income.  

“The Independent Panel’s urgent calls on wealthy nations to supply at least 1 billion vaccines to low- and middle-income countries by September, fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), accelerate technology transfer and remove trade-related barriers are imperative, together with the call for the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a roadmap with clear goals, targets, and milestones for ending the pandemic. Sadly, the fact that these recommendations are needed nearly 18 months into the crisis — and when the last week marked the highest number of COVID-19 cases the world has recorded to date — speaks volumes about the failures of the global response.  

“Yet as we continue to battle this pandemic, we cannot afford to ignore the next one. We commend the Independent Panel for keeping a clear eye on the future. Many of the Panel’s recommendations reflect the priorities we have set out in our 2021 Agenda for Action, including to: elevate global and national leadership on pandemic preparedness and response; increase investments in preparedness and surge capacity through a new international financing facility;  strengthen the WHO; create a rapid global surveillance and alert system; and ensure a pre-negotiated global mechanism for rapid development and equitable supply of lifesaving tools and technologies. We also support the Panel’s call for a UN Special Summit this fall at which heads of state will commit to action. 

“Most of the Independent Panel’s recommendations are not novel, and they will not solve all the weaknesses exposed by this pandemic. But they provide a starting point both to accelerate the end of this crisis and build a better prepared world. At upcoming global summits, world leaders must take steps to address pandemics as the grave and existential threat to humanity that they are. Too many times in the past, recommendations on pandemic preparedness have faded once the immediate crisis has waned. We owe it to the 3.3 million people who have lost their lives and the brave heroes of this pandemic — the frontline health and essential workers, the epidemiologists, the researchers, the educators, the community activists — not to let that happen again. We want to see a step change in the ambition of world leaders to end this pandemic and pandemic-proof our future and we hope the Independent Panel’s report will be the catalyst for that change.”

Pandemic Action Network Honored Among Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas

In one year, Pandemic Action Network has come together as a bold catalytic coalition of more than 100 global multi-sector partners to inspire a change in the world, knowing that no single stakeholder can tackle pandemic preparedness or response alone. 

We are proud that Pandemic Action Network has been honored as a part of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas because changing the world is precisely the point of our collective efforts. 

World Changing Ideas is an annual social good awards program that elevates innovative projects and concepts that are tackling the world’s biggest challenges, from solving health crises and social injustice to economic inequality and more. Now in its fifth year, the awards have showcased ideas dedicated to making the world a better place.

Last year, COVID-19 shocked the world into awareness that we are not prepared for pandemics. This deadly, costly crisis — which has impacted every country around the globe — has also created a political opportunity for global action — a window that will close as the pandemic fades. 

Our Network is seizing this opportunity for action. We believe that every effort we make in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a longer-term legacy that better prepares humanity to deal with outbreaks and help prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from ever happening again. We know that the challenges are too big and too many for any one single stakeholder or sector, but our experience during our first year of collective action has proven the power of unlocking our Network model time and again.

As we navigate the second year of this pandemic, the work of our Network has only begun and is more urgent than ever. The current crisis in India and the spread of more infectious variants show that we are in a race against time and that the gravity of the challenge demands a step change in the ambition of world leaders. Together, Pandemic Action Network is catalyzing solutions, amplifying opportunities for action, and accelerating an equitable response to this pandemic while seizing every opportunity to put pandemic prevention and preparedness on the agenda so that we can create a pandemic-proof world for future generations.

Lessons Learned — One Year of Collective Action 

One year ago, we launched Pandemic Action Network knowing that no single stakeholder or sector can tackle pandemic preparedness or response alone. Together, over the past year, our innovative Network has learned lessons and achieved progress while remaining agile to act amidst an ever-changing political landscape and compounding social crises. 

To mark our one-year anniversary, we are reflecting on the lessons learned during our first year of collective action. Our work has only begun, but together we are making progress and seizing every opportunity to put pandemic prevention and preparedness on the agenda.

Fill the policy & advocacy action gap.
Our co-founders and partners understood at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that the global response to COVID-19 would be full of gaps, and someone needed to leap into action to fill them. By building relationships across sectors and translating data into clear messaging and policy recommendations, we enable decision-makers to take actions that will drive more effective pandemic preparedness and response. 

Unlock the Network to maximize impact. 
We knew that the challenges were too big and too many for any one single stakeholder or sector, but our experience during the first year of collective action has proven the power of our network model time and again. Whether amplifying the call for vaccine equity through ONE’s Pandemica campaign, informing the work of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, catalyzing a movement to reach 3.5 billion+ people during World Mask Week, supporting Global Citizen and the European Commission’s fundraising effort for the ACT Accelerator, joining forces with partners to form the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa to fill the PPE gap for community health workers, or influencing the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda on pandemic preparedness, we are demonstrating what is possible when you unlock the power of our global network. Together, we do achieve more.

Amplify, don’t compete. 
In one year, we have built a robust and growing global multi-sector network of more than 100 partners to be the agile platform required to address a crisis of this magnitude. While individual members may not be able to take certain stands or advance certain actions, together we have witnessed the Network’s ability to hold global leadership accountable and drive change, as we have done with our collaborative call to COVAX to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and to world leaders to share excess doses. At the end of the day, we are able to mobilize action by ensuring that we are delivering the right message via the most strategic set of messengers at the right time. 

Messaging matters. 
Storytelling moves people to action. The pandemic has shown the power of consistent and clear communication and the influence of misinformation. It’s no surprise that the WHO declared an infodemic before declaring a pandemic. While focusing on policies that would accelerate an end to the pandemic, the Network has also prioritized the role that communication plays in shaping individual choices and collective policies. Whether creating #AfricaMaskWeek to rally the continent — and particularly youth — around the importance of ongoing masking, or educating influencers in the U.S. with the facts on COVID-19 vaccines with #ItsOurShot, we know that messaging continues to be critical to both navigating the vaccine era of this pandemic and ultimately stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Learn and adapt in real time. 
Just as epidemiologists must learn quickly and integrate new data into their strategies, our Network has learned to be nimble and adapt our strategies based on new information and developments in real time. We have swiftly managed our advocacy strategy around U.S. House and Senate bills and EU opportunities, and pivoted our masking communications strategy taking into account shifting public behaviors and public health guidance. The rapidity with which we have scaled and advanced our work hinges on the Network’s ability to be agile based on the direction of political winds and data-driven learnings.  

Seize every opportunity to put pandemic prevention and preparedness on the agenda.
As we continue to operate in the midst of a pandemic and observe fatigue on a personal and political level, our work is even more urgent. We are collectively driven by the need to stop the cycle of panic and neglect once and for all. We have the opportunity to codify lessons and stop recreating the pandemic response playbook every time there is an outbreak, and we know that we have the best possibility of achieving these objectives when there is strong and sustained political will to do so. Therefore, we have been leveraging the attention devoted to the COVID-19 response to simultaneously advance our longer-term agenda calling on world leaders to take action now to effectively pandemic-proof the planet for the long-term

Long-term commitment is essential. 
As we navigate the second year of this pandemic, it is clear that our work is far from done. We are making collective progress, but we know that this is just the beginning of a long-term effort to ensure a global and equitable response to this pandemic while ensuring that preparedness is always a priority, not only a priority when we are in crisis. 

It’s Time to Pandemic-Proof the World: A 2021 Agenda for Action

The devastating health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19 global health crisis show that it is well past time for world leaders to prepare for pandemics as the existential, catastrophic, and growing global security threat they are. In 2010, well before COVID-19, there were six times more zoonotic spillover events than in 1980, and the number of new outbreaks continues to grow. Persistent gaps in international pandemic preparedness and response capacities have been flagged by various expert panels in the wake of previous health emergencies, but time and again, once the crisis disappears, political attention and funding shifts to other priorities. This dereliction of duty must stop once and for all.

Despite impacting people around the globe, COVID-19 has not affected everyone equally. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated long-standing health and socio-economic inequalities within and across countries and in marginalized and vulnerable populations, including inequalities due to gender, race, ethnicity, class, and disability. The glaring disparities in global access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and vital tools such as oxygen and personal protective equipment (PPE) underscore the inequitable global health and preparedness system. And the lack of proactive attention by leaders to address and account for these inequities has significantly undermined the global COVID-19 response.

As the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) made clear in its September 2020 report A World in Disorder, the world cannot afford to continue to ignore or delay preparations to bolster our collective defenses against emerging pandemic threats. As they battle the current crisis, countries and international institutions must act now to ensure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic threat, which may be lurking just around the corner. These commitments should include building and reliably funding a well-trained and well-equipped health and research workforce, more resilient frontline health systems, timely and transparent disease surveillance, and effective supply chains for vaccines, diagnostics, PPE, and other tools to enable every country to detect, prevent, and rapidly respond to outbreaks before they become deadly and costly pandemics. It is time to invest in a smarter, more responsive, and more resilient global health security architecture.

Pandemic Action Network’s 100+ partners urge world leaders to take urgent action in the following areas to bolster the global COVID-19 response, hasten an end to this global crisis, and lay the groundwork for a more pandemic-proof world.

Support an equitable global response to COVID-19

The only way to end this pandemic is to end it for everyone through a coordinated global response. Yet as world leaders navigate the second year of responding to COVID-19 and securing vaccine doses for their constituents, nationalist inequitable approaches are still pervasive. Recent data shows that the world has now procured enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to reach herd immunity globally, but while some high-income countries have secured multiple times the number of doses as there are eligible adults in their countries, only 0.2% of doses administered have been in low- and middle-incomes countries (LMICs). Although it may seem intuitive for governments to first take action at home, this approach belies the fact that the virus — and its swiftly spreading variants — do not respect borders. Many countries that managed to control or even stop the spread of the virus earlier in the pandemic are once again seeing a surge in cases. There simply is no effective domestic response without also embracing a global approach. Everyone deserves to hope for a swift end to the pandemic, regardless of where they live. But it will only be possible if political leaders act globally as well as locally, knowing no country will be safe until every country is safe.

1. Accelerate global access and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines needed to achieve at least 70% coverage in all countries and enable an equitable global response and recovery.

World leaders should:

  • Fully fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) in 2021, filling the $22.1 billion funding gap as soon as possible with countries paying their fair share for this global public good. Countries should also commit to continue to invest in research and development (R&D) as well as scale-up of proven tools to prevent, test, and treat COVID-19 and ensure that medical countermeasures are effective against all strain mutations and all variants of concern. Given the scale of resources required, countries will need to tap into fiscal stimulus funding and other financial sources beyond official development assistance (ODA).
  • Agree to a roadmap to achieve at least 70% coverage of vaccines for LMICs, with at least 30% being secured, delivered, and administered in 2021. Leaders need to agree to a fully costed plan to achieve equitable global coverage as soon as possible. The full costs of delivering and administering doses in-country should be included in this roadmap, as well as the investments in vaccine education required to increase vaccine confidence.
  • Commit to donate, free of charge, all excess COVID-19 vaccine doses to the COVAX facility in parallel to their domestic vaccination efforts and start those donations as soon as possible. Countries should immediately announce commitments to share their full surplus supply on the most ambitious timeline possible, putting plans in place to deliver on this commitment as soon as is feasible in 2021 in line with COVAX’s dose sharing principles. These donations should not count as ODA, and should be in addition to funding the ACT-A.
  • Commit to “slot swaps” as another way to give COVAX additional supply. “Slot swaps” should be undertaken whereby high-income countries reallocate some of their existing orders immediately, potentially ordering replacement vaccines to arrive farther in the future, effectively giving their earlier “slots” to COVAX to help provide vaccines for LMICs to close the current acute gap in supply.
  • Ramp up global access and delivery of rapid testing, medical oxygen, and personal protective equipment to the frontlines. Continuing shortages of PPE and medical oxygen for frontline health workers and extremely limited deployment of testing — including genetic sequencing capacity to detect variants of interest — especially in LMICs, is hampering the global COVID-19 response and is a rate limiting factor for global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and restoration of essential health services.

Prioritize and invest in pandemic preparedness and prevention

According to the IMF, the pandemic will cost the global economy and the World Bank projects that more than 160 million people will fall into poverty by the end of 2021. Conversely, recent estimates are that as little as $10-20 billion annually can ensure the world is much better prepared to detect, prevent, and respond to the next infectious disease outbreak before it becomes another deadly and costly pandemic. To minimize human lives lost from infectious diseases and lessen the impact on countries due to economic fallout, leaders should take the actions below to be prepared for the next pandemic.

2. Establish a catalytic, sustainable multilateral financing mechanism that is dedicated to promoting pandemic preparedness and prevention.

World leaders should:

  • Pledge new investments toward a target $20 billion initial capitalization co-funded from public, private, and philanthropic sources. Priorities for this new multilateral financing mechanism — which will fill a strategic gap in the existing global health architecture — should be on supporting LMICs to develop and implement national action plans for health security and pandemic preparedness, to close their urgent health security gaps, and foster a global “race to the top” among all nations for preparedness. The catalytic nature of this mechanism will help ensure both countries and other global health initiatives prioritize coordinated, multisectoral, prevention and preparedness funding in their domestic budgets, including support for country-level programmatic and managerial capacity in health systems strengthening.
  • Align funding with target country priorities to strengthen pandemic preparedness and containment as well as promote efforts toward pandemic prevention. Programs that should be financed at scale include detecting and stopping the spread of outbreaks and ensuring compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHRs), strengthening laboratory and manufacturing capacity, bolstering and protecting a trained, compensated health workforce, building and strengthening health information systems, ensuring resilient national and regional supply chains, One Health initiatives, and stopping zoonotic spillover from causing new outbreaks through measures such as reductions in deforestation and wildlife trade.

3. Bolster financing and at-the-ready global R&D capacity and coordination to combat emerging infectious diseases and pandemic threats without undermining important funding for existing epidemics research and innovation, including poverty-related and neglected diseases.

Applying the lessons learned from COVID-19, leaders should support the development and financing of mechanisms and initiatives that coordinate and catalyze research and development for new tools, including the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, and other not-for-profit product development partnerships (PDPs) addressing the broad range of health threats.

World leaders should:

  • Fully fund CEPI’s $3.5 billion replenishment. This funding would support the organization’s moonshot initiative of compressing vaccine development for new pandemics to 100 days, and continuing efforts to develop vaccines for known threats. It would also support CEPI’s other objectives, including preparing clinical trial networks to quickly respond to new threats, coordinating with global regulators to streamline vaccine oversight, and linking manufacturing facilities to speed up global production.
  • Support integration of R&D into the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) framework to include R&D capacity-building for medical countermeasures. Inclusion of metrics through a GHSA R&D taskforce will help countries assess, prioritize, and better plan for strengthening their R&D capabilities.
  • Build on the ACT-A’s response to COVID-19 to ensure a robust, end-to-end, and sustainable investment in global health R&D for pandemic preparedness, including long-term investments to strengthen global research, laboratory, and manufacturing capacities. This future readiness state should also foster more investments and partnerships with diverse research and academic institutions to both build regional R&D prior to crises and scale up support during emergencies. Investments should be made with policies that promote equitable global access to and affordability of tools like vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.

4. Strengthen global and national surveillance capacities & outbreak analytics.

COVID-19 has demonstrated global gaps in early detection and data sharing around emerging threats, as well as gaps in ongoing surveillance capacities of countries, especially low-resource countries. Current emerging infectious disease surveillance and investigation is poorly allocated, with the majority of the globe’s resources not focused on areas with the most zoonotic hotspots where the next emerging deadly pathogen is likely to originate.

World leaders should:

  • Strengthen integrated national disease surveillance capacities in LMICs. Such surveillance capacities should take a One Health approach and be responsive to local needs (i.e., give results in real-time for use by clinicians and public health officials). Such capacities should not be developed in a silo for pandemic risk monitoring; rather they should provide utility for day-to-day public health programs, leverage the latest developments in digital tools to streamline operations for health workers, and accelerate data flow and analysis.
  • Strengthen mechanisms and platforms that allow for independent sharing and verification of data related to emerging health threats, complementary to and in partnership with the WHO’s role in collecting data from official sources under the IHRs. Such capacities should enable and promote more transparency and accountability in data access for all relevant stakeholders.
  • Commit to the rapid publishing and sharing of line list and pathogen genome data into shared repositories (e.g., the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System and the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration) to ensure that data necessary to monitor variants of concern can be acted upon before they become dominant.
  • Support innovations in outbreak detection and analytics capacity nationally through emergency operations centers, regionally through academic centers of excellence, and globally through laboratory and disease surveillance networks. The ACT-A has taught the community about the importance of collaboration and rapid response, and these lessons should be applied to future tools.

5. Bolster global capacities, institutions, and systems for pandemics, health security and resilient health systems, including through reforming WHO and strengthening international frameworks for pandemic preparedness and response.

World leaders should:

  • Build consensus for, and rapidly move to implement, proposals that will strengthen the WHO as the global coordinating authority on health. Leaders should support proposals for sustainable financing of the WHO, including incremental increases in assessed contributions and more (and more flexible) voluntary financing. Such resourcing should go hand-in-hand with strengthening the WHO’s normative and technical capacities, including the Chief Scientist’s Office, the Health Emergencies Programme, and the WHO Academy, and with encouraging greater staff mobility and budget flexibility to bolster the WHO’s capacities at the country-level. In line with the Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA), leaders must enable more robust and transparent engagement with key stakeholders such as civil society and the private sector.
  • Strengthen the IHRs to foster more timely and accountable response to pandemic threats, including to authorize international investigations. Leaders should afford the WHO the ability to independently investigate potential and emerging threats, specify better information sharing, and better calibrate the definitions of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Metrics on equity, R&D, infection prevention control, capacity strengthening, and water, sanitation and hygiene should also be included in the IHR Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, to incentivize countries to assess, plan, prioritize, and better support sustainable and resilient health systems, and promote healthcare worker safety.
  • Support other voluntary and compulsory instruments to strengthen accountability of nation states and foster multilateral cooperation for pandemic preparedness and response. Many gains can be made by strengthening existing mechanisms and instruments, which should be prioritized alongside the proposal for a new pandemic treaty. Such instruments should promote accountability in functions including ensuring novel countermeasures are treated as global public goods; motivating faster flow of financing to address direct and collateral impacts of pandemics, including protecting frontline health workers and social protection for vulnerable populations such as refugees and those living in conflict-affected areas; reaffirming the centrality of human rights considerations in the context of a pandemic; boosting domestic R&D and manufacturing capacity; and establishing up data surveillance systems, and norms and standards around data sharing and data privacy.
  • Scale up national and global vaccine education efforts to increase vaccine confidence, distribution, and uptake. Countries should have budgets dedicated for vaccine education within health ministries, initiate public education campaigns to manage the spread of misinformation online, and build capacity for vaccine hesitancy research. Training should be prioritized for frontline healthcare workers, community leaders, and others in how to engage in difficult conversations on vaccine hesitancy.

6. Promote equity-focused initiatives and human rights protections in all aspects of pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery, including specific attention to address the intersectional and gendered effects of outbreaks.

World leaders should:

  • Commit to equitable financing to support populations most at risk for morbidity and mortality, including addressing inequities due to disparities in gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and disability.
  • Ensure commitments to human rights and equity are met, in alignment with IHR Article 3 on human rights, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 for Women, Peace and Security, the UN Political Declaration for Universal Health Coverage, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Commit to equal and diverse representation on emergency committees, including the IHR Emergency Committee and UN technical working groups, with active and meaningful participation of gender advisors and civil society groups as non-participant observers of EC meetings.
  • Ensure that all data pertinent to pandemic preparedness and response collected by the WHO and other health-focused UN bodies (as well as national governments) is published and disaggregated by sex and key socioeconomic groups.

 


 

An array of upcoming international summits — including the G20, G7, World Health Assembly, World Bank/IMF Meetings, and UN General Assembly — offer opportunities for leaders to act on this agenda. Critically, while health ministers have a key role to play, a concerted effort to end pandemics is a whole of government effort — and must be addressed at the level of heads of state. That is why the Pandemic Action Network supports the GPMB’s call for the UN Secretary-General to convene a focused UN High-Level Summit on Pandemic Preparedness and Response to mobilize increased domestic and international financing and advance efforts toward a new international framework for pandemic preparedness. Such a summit at head of state level should take up the forthcoming findings of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (the Independent Panel), the G20 High-Level Independent Panel for Financing the Global Commons (HLIP), the International Health Regulations (IHR) Review Committee, and the proposal for a new international treaty on pandemic preparedness and response.

World leaders must seize this opportunity to commit to action and leave a legacy of a healthier and safer world. We can pandemic-proof the future if world leaders act now. The world can’t afford to wait.

Pandemic Action Network Applauds Bipartisan Support for Global Health Security Legislation in U.S. House of Representatives

March 25, 2021 – Pandemic Action Network warmly welcomes the bipartisan advancement of a key global health security bill by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee today. The Global Health Security Act of 2021 is an important step forward to accelerate and deepen U.S. global leadership in pandemic preparedness and response, and draws on lessons learned from COVID-19 to strengthen and invest in global efforts to detect, prevent, and respond to emerging pandemic threats that will keep America and the world healthier, safer, and more secure.

The Global Health Security Act of 2021 (HR 391) legislates the U.S. commitment to, and leadership in, the Global Health Security Agenda, a partnership of 70 countries working to secure global health security. In addition to elevating and improving U.S. prioritization and coordination of global health security efforts, the bill also instructs the Administration to work with other donor nations and multilateral stakeholders to establish a new Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness, which will leverage public and private financing to rapidly accelerate pandemic preparedness in lower-income countries. The Fund echoes calls from the Pandemic Action Network and partners as well as the language included in the recent National Security Memorandum from the White House to stand up an enduring, catalytic international financing mechanism to help countries close critical gaps in their preparedness for potential pandemics and incentivize sustainable domestic public and private sector investments in global health security. The Network calls  on the President and Congress to commit at least $2 billion to jumpstart the Fund this year.

Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds said, “Pandemic Action Network applauds the strong bipartisan cooperation in the House Foreign Affairs Committee to advance the Global Health Security Act, demonstrating the urgent imperative for U.S. global leadership to make the world safer from pandemic threats. Chronic underinvestment in public health systems and pandemic preparedness has been a major factor in the inadequate control of COVID-19 around the world, and that neglect must stop once and for all.  The bipartisan support for this bill underscores that health security is not a partisan issue, but it is the smart, strategic, and right thing to do—for America and the world.  

“We thank House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Meeks, Ranking Member McCaul, and Representatives Connolly and Chabot for their leadership and strong commitment to heed the lessons learned from COVID-19 and help ensure that America engages with the world in preventing another deadly, costly pandemic from happening again. We urge the entire House to approve this critical health security bill without delay.”

Pandemic Action Network Statement on Outcomes of the G7 Special Summit and Munich Security Conference on the Global COVID-19 Response

Eloise Todd and Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founders of the Pandemic Action Network, said:

The Pandemic Action Network applauds the financial pledges made today by global leaders to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and its COVAX facility, which together constitute a significant jump forward toward ACT-A’s US$38B funding target. Substantial contributions from the leaders of the US, Germany, and the European Commission helped make this leap, along with new contributions from Canada and Japan. We also welcome US President Joe Biden’s call for increased investments in global health security to address emerging pandemic and biosecurity threats.

This strong show of multilateralism, together with commitments already made by the United Kingdom’s leadership of the G7 Presidency and the Italian G20 Presidency to prioritize global health security in their forthcoming summits, gives us hope that 2021 could be the year in which we not only can turn the corner on COVID-19, but also lay the foundation for a world that will be better prepared for future pandemic threats.

To accelerate the end of this global crisis, we urge G7 leaders to heed the call of French President Emmanuel Macron to ensure healthcare workers and the most vulnerable people in the poorest countries can urgently access to COVID-19 vaccines, by sharing some of the vaccines ordered by the wealthiest countries without delay, as well as by closing the remaining financing gap for the ACT-Accelerator.

Yet even as the world is fighting this crisis, we must urgently prepare for the next one. That’s why we also are urging G7 and G20 leaders to join with President Biden in plans for “creating an enduring international catalytic financing mechanism for advancing and improving existing bilateral and multilateral approaches to global health security.” Speaker after speaker at the Munich Security Conference today talked about how the costs of inaction vastly outweigh the cost of acting in advance of future outbreaks to quash potential pandemic threats, yet preparedness has been ignored for far too long. Actions speak louder than words: Now is the time for the G7 and G20 to commit the policies, plans, and resources necessary to build a future that will protect both people and planet.

2021 could be a historic year for multilateral action to combat some of the gravest threats facing humanity. There is an opportunity for leaders to ensure equitable access to vaccines and to advance ambitious pandemic preparedness, climate, and biodiversity plans toward a better, safer, and healthier world. Our Network of more than 90 partners around the world stands ready to work with world leaders to seize this unprecedented opportunity. We simply cannot afford to fail.

“Honoring Health Care Workers Is Not Enough—We Must Work to Protect Them.” – Recommendations from Resolve to Save Lives for Governments, Health Systems, and Funders

By Amanda McClelland, Senior Vice President, Resolve to Save Lives

The COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented in many ways. But in at least one respect, it is tragically similar to other outbreaks of infectious disease: health care workers have not been provided adequate protections and have been hit disproportionately hard.

The World Health Organization estimates at least 30,000 health care workers have already died from COVID-19. Health care workers are so critical to our response to COVID-19 and other epidemics that it’s difficult to imagine what the response would look like without them. Times like this are when we need health care workers most; we depend on them to work intimately with patients, providing both lifesaving care and comfort, even when that means putting their own lives on the line. And although health care workers’ heroism and sacrifices during COVID-19 have been loudly applauded, this well-deserved recognition can hide another truth: these sacrifices—of time, well-being, even their lives—are largely avoidable. By not prioritizing and investing in the safety of health care workers, governments around the world have chosen, once again, words over deeds.

As a nurse, I know firsthand what it is like to be on the frontline of an epidemic without sufficient support. When you don’t have the resources, equipment, policies, training, guidelines or other support you need, it puts you, your patients and your health system at risk.

But there is good news. Protecting health care workers is easier than you think. In a new report, Resolve to Save Lives and partners highlight the risks health care workers face, and break down what governments, NGOs, donors, and advocates can do to start protecting health care workers better today:

  • Put measures proven to prevent and control the spread of infection in place. Health facilities everywhere need clean water, sanitation, and hygiene protocols (also known as WASH standards). Other necessary improvements include increased ventilation, and standards to triage and isolate patients. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, hand sanitizer, and gowns are also needed.
  • Provide training on how to prevent and control infections for health care workers at all levels. Stopping the spread of infections means following best practices—health care workers need quality training (and frequent updates) on how to keep themselves, and their patients safe.
  • Advocate for laws and policies that support health care workers, in and out of the workplace. Employer-sponsored benefits like paid sick leave and access to mental health services allow health care workers to care for themselves, which makes them better able to care for patients. Burn out is a serious threat to the health workforce, a field which already faces critical shortages around the world. This also means prioritizing health care workers everywhere—not just in wealthy countries—to receive COVID-19 vaccines immediately.
  • Collect data on health care worker infections and protections and use it to improve safety practices. Tracking factors like handwashing, hospital-associated infections, availability of PPE, and adequate water and sanitation in health care facilities can help to identify gaps. International leaders like the World Health Organization should prioritize this issue and use available data to publish regular reports and recommendations for improvement.

Take action to advance these critical recommendations!

Read the full report from Resolve to Save Lives: Protecting Health Care Workers, A Need for Urgent Action

Share on social media: Protecting Health Care Workers Social Toolkit

 


Amanda McClelland is the senior vice-president of the Prevent Epidemics team at Resolve to Save Lives. A registered nurse, she has more than 20 years of experience in primary health care, global health and responding to natural disasters, conflict and epidemics in more than 15 countries including the West Africa Ebola response.

Resolve to Save Lives was created to save 100 million lives from cardiovascular disease and to prevent epidemics. Resolve to Save Lives provides catalytic funding to countries interested in improving epidemic preparedness or their citizens’ heart health.

“The Pandemic Demands That We All Get Political.” – A Message from Incoming UNITE Executive Director Amish Laxmidas

By Amish Laxmidas

The current pandemic has shown us that we all need to be political. While we rely on our policymakers to effectively legislate on clinical and non-clinical COVID-19 response, to allocate smart budgets to stimulus packages for our much-damaged economies, and to use diplomacy to make the COVID-19 vaccine as a global public good, there is another pandemic in the making. And it will severely hit us all, if we don’t seize this moment to take action so that COVID-19 leaves a legacy to better prepare humanity to deal with outbreaks.

It has been a year since the WHO has declared SARS-CoV-2 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Recently, we gathered policymakers and global health experts from around the world to grapple with lessons learned and the political commitments required to take action on COVID-19 while not losing sight of the Sustainable Development Goals in the midst and aftermath of the pandemic. With an eye on the next pandemic, the following key recommendations for policymakers emerged:

  1. Lead the discussion on the creation of national and global systems of alert that put in place a strong mechanism to alert national governments and international institutions of the possibility of an imminent global health threat. Lawmakers should be the frontline of a future pandemic rather than healthcare workers.
  2. Hold national governments accountable. 2020 will always be marked by the year in which science, multilateralism, and diplomacy have prevailed after all. However, vaccine nationalism and unilateralism are on the rise. The only stakeholder that has the power to hold national governments accountable for their international commitments are members of parliament, congresses, and senates. They are the ones who truly represent the most vulnerable communities, and therefore they have a duty to fulfill.
  3. Pandemic preparedness and response demand a global response. UNITE is a platform of dialogue and action in which donor countries and policymakers are united in a shared understanding that no one is safe until everyone is safe. Unless we fully fund COVAX and the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), policymakers from low- and-middle-income countries will continue to witness their constituencies suffering from the virus and consequently the global economy and supply chains for the high-income countries will continue to be broken.
  4. Invest now for the future. There is enough data for policymakers that shows that the cost of response exceeds the cost of preparedness. The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board is clear in saying that ‘expenditures for prevention and preparedness are measured in billions of dollars, the cost of a pandemic in trillions. It would take 500 years to spend as much on investing in preparedness as the world is losing due to COVID-19’. Further, the latest World Economic Outlook (January 2021) estimates that the global growth contraction for 2020 to be at -3.5 per cent. Countries like the United States or Germany are expected to grow slower than emerging economies in this year and the following.
  5. Democracy must be the most important determinant for health & well-being for all. The linkage between health and democracy is clear: regular, free, and fair democracies have higher legitimacy (and incentives) to provide resource allocation to their constituencies. On the other side of the spectrum, a recent piece from the British Medical Journal shows that ‘countries in which democracy is being eroded have made less progress on universal health coverage’. The economic downturn, the lack of funding for social welfare state mechanisms, and the rise of vaccine nationalism are key ingredients for the rise of misinformation, mistrust in multilateralism, and lack of confidence in policymakers. Political polarisation toward the current virus has allowed a narrative that leads to easy answers for difficult questions. Political cycles and democratic transition of power should be firm but also safe for its most important stakeholder: The People.

 

Over the last year, everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 in some way and the pandemic is everyone’s business now. But, for policymakers, in particular, it is time to turn lessons learned into actions. Policymakers who had never legislated during a pandemic had to turn to public health experts to know when to reopen schools, museums, restaurants or their borders. Global, national, and regional sovereignty is at stake because we did not act accordingly years ago. Now is the time for policymakers around the globe to prioritise long-term pandemic preparedness for the security and health of our countries. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.


About UNITE

UNITE is an independent, non-profit, global network of current and former parliamentarians. UNITE is committed to ensuring that no life is limited by infectious disease through unified political advocacy. Read the UNITE Global Summit Handbook for policymakers here.

Pandemic Action Network Praises White House Actions to Bolster the COVID-19 Response and Prioritize Pandemic Preparedness

The Pandemic Action Network warmly welcomes the suite of early announcements by the Biden-Harris Administration to elevate and accelerate global efforts to help hasten an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that America and the world is better prepared for emerging pandemic threats. The decisions and commitments by the White House adopt several of the recommendations that were included in a paper submitted to the Biden-Harris transition team by a group of leading U.S. global health policy experts, including two of our Pandemic Action Network co-founders, Carolyn Reynolds and Gabrielle Fitzgerald.

On his first day in office, President Biden signed a new Executive Order to organize and mobilize the U.S. government to provide an effective COVID-19 response and provide U.S. leadership on global health security. This was followed on day two with a National Security Directive on U.S. Global Leadership to Strengthen the International COVID-19 Response and Advance Global Health Security and Biological Preparedness and an Executive Order on Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High Consequence Public Health Threats. In addition, to underscore the new Administration’s support for the global COVID-19 response, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros and Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to the WHO’s Executive Board meeting.

Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds said,

“These early announcements and actions by President Biden and his Administration to prioritize global health security represent the kind of bold leadership that has been lacking on pandemic response and preparedness for far too long. We are delighted to see that President Biden has rightly elevated pandemic threats as a top national security priority for the United States, and that the plan he has put forward is both national and global, recognizing that America’s health and security depends on stopping COVID-19 and future biothreats both at home and abroad.

The Pandemic Action Network and our partners look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to follow through on these commitments and leave a legacy that better prepares America and the world to address emerging pandemic threats and ensure that a deadly and costly pandemic like COVID-19 never happens again.”

Collectively, the White House actions taken to date respond to our Network’s calls for the Biden-Harris Administration on several issues, including to: prioritize and scale up financing for pandemic preparedness and response both at home and abroad; step up U.S. support for the global COVID-19 response, including joining the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and the COVAX Facility; reform and strengthen the World Health Organization; invest in better outbreak detection and analytics; strengthen global supply chains for frontline pandemic response, including for personal protective equipment; and elevate leadership and accountability within the U.S. government on pandemics.

Open Letter – Calling on President Biden to Establish a COVID-19 Task Force Focused on U.S. K-12 Schools

A collective of educators and public health professionals is urging the Biden Administration to establish a task force focused specifically on reopening schools as quickly and as safely as possible.  Pandemic Action Network Co-founders Gabrielle Fitzgerald and Carolyn Reynolds have signed on to this open letter. While we applaud the urgency set forth by the Biden Administration already, evidenced by inclusion of school funding in the stimulus proposal as well as the goal of reopening schools in the first 100 days, we believe there needs to be focused interdisciplinary attention to schools at a national level to address the intersection of health, education, and labor issues. We have already lost significant time. Please read and sign on to the letter to ask President Biden to urgently stand up a task force to focus on schools in support of the first 100 days agenda.

Read the full letter here.

Email [email protected] to sign on to this open letter.

Statement on FY21 Omnibus and Emergency COVID-19 Spending Bill

Pandemic Action Network welcomes emergency funding for Gavi, urges new Administration and Congress to prioritize global investments in pandemic preparedness and response

Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds released the following statement on the FY21 omnibus and emergency COVID-19 spending bill:

“We are pleased that Congress saw fit to include $4 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in the final omnibus and emergency spending bill to support the global COVID-19 response. These funds will help ensure that people in need around the world can receive lifesaving vaccines as soon as possible, regardless of where they live.

But Congress must do much more to support global efforts to end this pandemic and help prevent the next one. A U.S. contribution of $4 billion for the Global Fund and $200 million for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) are also urgently needed as part of a broader global response package to address COVID-19’s devastating impacts, which threaten to set back years, if not decades, of progress in global health.

Increasing global investments in pandemic preparedness and response is squarely in the U.S. interest: America will not be safe until every country is safe, and America’s health and economic recovery is highly dependent on global health and recovery. Like the response to 9/11 and the AIDS pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis demands extraordinary U.S. global leadership to treat pandemics as the existential national security threat they are.

We urge the 117th Congress and incoming Biden Administration to work together to significantly step up the global fight against infectious disease threats and prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.”

Read our recommendations for the incoming Biden-Harris Administration here.

The Missing Piece of the Puzzle: Getting from Vaccine Hesitancy to Acceptance

For too long, the global health community has ignored the warning signs, assuming that anti-vaccination challenges were limited to a single geography or vaccine, and that anti-vaccination beliefs were fringe and would not impact broader uptake. In 2019, the WHO finally listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the world’s top ten global health threats. In 2020, this threat has been supercharged by the pandemic, representing a critical tipping point in the decades-long trend of vaccine distrust and hesitancy. The world must now act urgently to address this growing threat in order to end the COVID-19 pandemic and help stop future deadly outbreaks.

As multiple promising vaccine candidates come to market, there is hope that the world will soon turn a corner on defeating COVID-19. But in many countries around the world, fewer than 70% of the population plan to get themselves vaccinated—less than the threshold at which public health experts estimate herd immunity to COVID-19 to be effective. Within communities across the globe, vaccine hesitancy threatens countries’ ability to effectively stop the spread of COVID-19 and risks prolonging the outbreak further, costing more lives. The Pandemic Action Network released a policy paper with a set of recommendations for a wide range of actors, including governments, community leaders, multilateral institutions, and social media companies. This paper urges the world to address the various issues leading to vaccine hesitancy to ensure individuals can make critical decisions about their health and the health of their families and communities based on trustworthy and factual information. No one actor can address vaccine hesitancy alone. The challenge of vaccine hesitancy demands collective global action for vaccine confidence and acceptance.

Read the paper here: The missing piece of the puzzle: Getting from vaccine hesitancy to acceptance

Africa Mask Week Sparks Community Engagement to Keep Masking

Youth, government and public health leaders, celebrities, and people across the continent united around the importance of mask wearing to slowing the pandemic.

During the last week of November, leaders and communities across Africa rallied around an important and critical idea: Keep masking. When we wear a mask, we are protecting our friends, our families, and our communities. 

Africa Mask Week came at a critical time, when data showed COVID-19 cases on the rise, but adherence to masking and other behaviors known to stop the spread waning due to pandemic and prevention fatigue. Between November 23 and 30, 2020 the Pandemic Action Network, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, the African Youth Front on Coronavirus, and Resolve to Save Lives organized the online campaign encouraging people across the African continent to wear masks and stem the spread of COVID-19. In the weeks since, the effort has sustained on social media and moved to offline fora and communities in 50 out of 54 African countries

Over the span of two weeks:

  • The campaign reached more than 299 million people with more than 187 million social media impressions and 112 million traditional media impressions across 106 countries. 
  • Preliminary results have shown an 18% increase in mask-wearing social posting activity compared to the previous period.
  • During the campaign, “community” was the most popular term in social posts, while #AfricaYouthLead was a popular tag alongside #AfricaMaskWeek.
  • The top post came from social media influencer Ihssane Benalluch, promoting mask wearing in English and Arabic.

 

This effort was driven by 75+ global, regional, national, and local partners via a social media partner toolkit with content in English, French, Arabic, Swahili, and Portuguese. Participating partners included Africa CDC, the AU Youth Envoy, Resolve to Save Lives, CORE Group, the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa (CAF-Africa), Gavi, Global Health Corps, Global Health Strategies, the Global Health Technologies Coalition, GOAL, Goodbye Malaria, HEA Sports, Jhpiego, Last Mile Health, MSH, ONE, PATH, the Rockefeller Foundation, Southern Africa Youth Forum, Sport Connect Africa, UNICEF, UNITE, USAID, VillageReach, WHO African Region, Weber Shandwick, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum.

The campaign launched with an Africa CDC virtual launch discussion featuring Africa CDC Director Dr. John Nkengasong, AU Youth Envoy Aya Chebbi, and Pandemic Action Network Co-founder Gabrielle Fitzgerald, and has had 3.2K views to date. 

At the launch of Africa Mask Week, Dr. Nkengasong articulated the challenge, “We may be tired. We may have prevention fatigue, but I can assure you the COVID-19 virus is not tired.” Until there are vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, wearing a mask is one of the best tools we have, especially when combined with physical distancing and hand washing. 

But arguably the biggest success of this campaign has been its offline reach across local and regional communities, thanks to the many in-country health institutions and NGOs working at the community level to disseminate mask-wearing messaging. Groups like the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Amref Health Africa, Development Media International (DMI) and so many more have folded these messages into their public health communications and community engagement efforts, ensuring that the importance of ongoing mask-wearing is emphasized among a wider audience.

We are grateful to the energy and efforts of all of our partners, and look forward to seeing this momentum continue through the new year. When we work together and #WearAMask, we can help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Spread CHEER, Not COVID

by Gabrielle Fitzgerald, Co-Founder Pandemic Action Network

The holiday season is here. The next few weeks are a time that we would normally hold festive get-togethers with loved ones – Hannukah, Christmas, New Year’s. While every family has unique traditions that make their celebrations special, what binds them in common is gathering, eating, and spending time together.

In 2020, holiday traditions, like almost everything else this year, need to adapt. With COVID cases rising in every single state, it is vital that we put tradition aside for this season and find new ways to celebrate.

The concept of holiday “cheer” is defined by dictionary.com as something that gives joy, gladness, or comfort. And it’s commemorated in carols as different as “Carol of the Bells” (written by a Ukranian composer in 1914) to “Christmas Wrapping” (the modern classic by The Waitresses in 1981).

But this year, there’s a new definition of “cheer” as a way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID. In order to “spread cheer, not COVID” everyone should keep in mind these rules for a CHEER-ful holiday.

#SpreadCHEER not COVID this holiday season with these five tips: 

  • Cover your face. Wear a mask to protect you and those around you, especially if you are indoors.
  • Handwash often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after removing your mask. Use hand sanitizer as a back-up.
  • Explore virtual activities. Get creative with online game nights, meals, movie watching or gift exchanges with friends or families.
  • Enjoy outside. If you must meet up with people you don’t live with, go outdoors. Even then, keep distance and masked!
  • Remember we are in this together. Until COVID-19 is gone, we must do our part to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

 

Pandemic Action Network partners helping lead the charge to #SpreadCHEER not COVID this season include the Federation of American Scientists, iHeartMedia, Facebook, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and dozens of other national and global organizations that make up the Network. iHeartMedia, for example, is supplying 30-second radio PSAs with the Spread CHEER message to its 800 radio stations around the United States. 

#SpreadCHEER not COVID focuses on tips and stories about creative ways people are celebrating the holidays while staying COVID-safe.

Let’s all work together to have a CHEERful holiday season this year so that we can get back to our traditional cheer next year!

 

 

 

 

Pandemic Action Network Urges Caution and Creativity: This Holiday Season, Spread CHEER Not COVID

New CHEER Tips Translate Public Health Recommendations Into 5 Ways to Stay Healthy and Merry

December 9, 2020, Seattle, WA—With daily cases surging in many parts of the world, and hospitals in the U.S. and many other countries slammed by COVID-19, the Pandemic Action Network is joining the chorus of leaders asking people to scale back their holiday plans. But with one twist: the Network is emphasizing ramping up the fun and creativity while adapting to new traditions that can keep people healthy and safe.

“We have an important message this holiday season: Spread CHEER not COVID,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “People are craving holiday joy, even more so in the face the unspeakable illness and tragedy we’ve faced during this ongoing pandemic. Our CHEER tips can help make the holidays both merry and safe.”

The five CHEER tips are:

  • Cover your face. Wear a mask to protect you and those around you, especially if you are indoors.
  • Handwash often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after removing your mask. Use hand sanitizer as a back-up.
  • Explore virtual activities. Get creative with online game nights, meals, movie watching or gift exchanges with friends or families.
  • Enjoy outside. If you must meet up with people you don’t live with, go outdoors. Even then, keep distance and masked!
  • Remember we are in this together. Until COVID-19 is gone, we must do our part to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

 

Pandemic Action Network partners helping lead the charge to #SpreadCHEER not COVID this season include the Federation of American Scientists, iHeartMedia, Facebook, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and dozens of other national and global organizations that make up the Network. iHeartMedia, for example, is supplying 30-second radio PSAs with the Spread CHEER message to its 800 radio stations around the United States.

In the U.S., the CDC is urging Americans to avoid travel during the winter holiday season. For those who decide to travel, the CDC recommends getting a COVID-19 test one to three days before the trip and another three to five days after travel. And regardless of where people celebrate the holiday, heeding guidelines and protocols from local public health leaders can help stop the exponential increases in cases we are seeing.

The Federation of American Scientists convened a group of leading behavioral scientists to advise on the development of its safe holiday initiative. Ultimately, the counsel helped produce messaging that is both empathetic and actionable; recognizing that we’ve all been through a lot this year, we need joy in our lives, but we also want to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The CHEER tips can help people navigate a perilous season.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been asked to adopt behaviors that are good for society but can be hard on them. Behavioral science helps us understand the best way to motivate people to adhere to such requests—to take on a cost for the benefit of others,” said Erez Yoeli, PhD, research scientist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Dr. Yoeli, whose research focuses on altruism, advised on the development of the Spread CHEER messaging. “This holiday season, we need to communicate the benefit to the community and be as unambiguous as possible about the guidance… all while demonstrating our understanding that everyone is badly—and rightly—craving joy right now. Spread CHEER not COVID hits those notes.”

The Pandemic Action Network is urging people and organizations to share ideas on how they will #SpreadCHEER not COVID on social media, tagging friends and family to pass on the momentum.

For more information, visit bit.ly/spreadcheer.

The Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launch, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask wearing– along with social distancing and handwashing – to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In August, the Pandemic Action Network introduced World Mask Week, and recently launched African Mask Week. Now facing surging rates of COVID-19, catalyzing the Network to share the important #SpreadCHEER message this holiday season is crucial to help slow the pandemic and save lives.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.

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#AfricaMaskWeek Launches to Build Continent-Wide Movement for Mask-Wearing

At a time when COVID-19 cases are increasing in a second wave in many parts of the world and people are fatigued with the public health and social measures, #AfricaMaskWeek is being launched to sustain and increase mask-wearing as a protective measure among populations in Africa.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 23 NOVEMBER 2020. #AfricaMaskWeek launches today across the continent, from 23 to 30 November 2020. Led by the Pandemic Action Network, in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, the African Youth Front on Coronavirus, Resolve to Save Lives, and many other organisations, this week-long social media campaign will encourage mask-wearing across the African continent.

Until there is a vaccine or medicine, mask-wearing, handwashing and physical distancing are the best tools available to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The key to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the absence of a vaccine is to adopt the age-old public health strategy of wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly and keeping a safe distance from others,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC. “As we intensify testing and contact tracing to identify and treat infected persons across the continent, you can avoid being infected by simply wearing a mask to prevent respiratory droplets from reaching your nose and mouth.”

In August 2020, the Pandemic Action Network led over 40 organisations across the globe to observe the World Mask Week, which provided a unique opportunity to draw attention to the need for increased use of face coverings in public places and particularly in settings where physical distancing is not possible.

Over 55 partner organizations are currently working together in implementing the #AfricaMaskWeek initiative to help mobilize support and action for increased mask-wearing as an essential measure to prevent COVID-19 infection and ultimately stop the spread of the COVID-19 at the community level in African countries.

The week will feature several activities, including a virtual launch event today at 6.00 pm East Africa Time, which will feature discussions about mask-wearing and its benefits in controlling the spread of COVID-19. There will be social media campaigns and online events through the week by corporate and private entities and individuals across the continent to promote mask-wearing. Individuals will be able to show their support by sharing photos and messages about mask-wearing using the hashtag #AfricaMaskWeek.

The registration link to join the kickoff event is: #AfricaMaskWeek23Nov2020. Meeting ID 916 5711 1736 and Passcode 072567.

Recent data suggest that mask-wearing in Africa is declining while COVID-19 continues to spread. African leaders and the public must keep practicing what works to stop the spread. More than 40 African countries have enacted policies on mandatory use of masks in public, but there are challenges with compliance to those policies. Implementation has been inconsistent and, in some cases, marred by human rights violations. Furthermore, there are documented rumors, misinformation, disinformation, and stigmatization about mask-wearing. The #AfricaMaskWeek is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of consistent and correct mask-wearing, address misperceptions and mobilize compliance.

“Africa has the youngest population in the world. African youth are innovative, resilient and have shown unprecedented leadership before and during the response to the pandemic. The victory of this fight against the COVID-19 lies in the hands of young people that’s why I call on youth across the continent to join #AfricaMaskWeek and keep on wearing a mask. COVID-19 is still here and still being spread in Africa. Protect yourself and protect others. Let’s save our continent. Mask Up, stand up and don’t give up the fight!” said Aya Chebbi, African Union Special Envoy on Youth.

#AfricaMaskWeek reminds us to wear masks consistently and correctly to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. “#AfricaMaskWeek is a call to action for leaders and the people of Africa,” said Gabriel Fitzgerald, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “Leaders should lead by example by consistently promoting mask-wearing and by wearing a mask in public. We must not rest or stop practicing those things that will help stop the spread of COVID-19, like handwashing, physical distancing and mask-wearing.”

For more information about #AfricaMaskWeek, please visit africamaskweek.com.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network comprises more than 55 multi-sector member and affiliate organizations that drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The network’s mission is to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods, both during this COVID-19 crisis and in future pandemics. In August, the Pandemic Network launched World Mask Week, August 7 – 14, 2020, which was kicked off by the #WearAMask social media challenge issued by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros and engaged more than 40 global partners to reach 3.5+ billion people across 145 countries with positive messages to raise awareness about the impact of wearing a mask and encourage mask wearing

About the African Union
The African Union leads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the regional economic communities and African citizens. The vision of the African Union is to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous and inclusive Africa, at peace with itself, playing a dynamic role in the continental and global arena, effectively driven by an accountable, efficient and responsive Commission.

Learn more at: http://www.au.int/en

About the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes. Learn more at: http://www.africacdc.org.

CONTACTS:

Pandemic Action Network
Autumn Lerner (US)
[email protected]
+1-206-234-1156

Krystle Lai (UK)
[email protected]
+44-7425-517326

Africa CDC
James Ayodele
[email protected]
+251953912454

Africa Mask Week Rallies Continent to Continue Wearing Masks to Stop COVID-19

Cases of and deaths from COVID-19 are on the rise in Africa, nearing 2M and surpassing 46K, respectively as of the date of this blog. Despite the increasing spread, there is a low perception of both the risk of contracting the virus and of the severity of the disease, particularly among young people. But communities across the continent have demonstrated great resilience in the face of economic and epidemiological uncertainty over the last several months. It is crucial that this momentum continues until COVID-19 is brought under control.

To fuel that momentum, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, the African Youth Front on Coronavirus, Resolve to Save Lives, and Pandemic Action Network are teaming up with more than 75 partners to launch Africa Mask Week – November 23-30, 2020. Building off of the success and learnings of World Mask Week, Africa Mask Week is a social media campaign focused on increasing and encouraging proper mask-wearing across the African continent, especially among young people. We are engaging influencers in sports, politics, and within local communities to champion the effort and lead by example and #WearAMask, and working with dozens of organizations around the world and on the continent to get the message out.

Africa Mask Week is a reminder that we must continue to wear masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The campaign is a call-to-action to the public to continue masking to protect themselves and their communities and a call-to-action to leaders and influencers to lead by example by practicing and promoting consistent mask-wearing. With your help, we can lay the foundation for pro-masking messages and behaviors to be carried through Africa Mask Week and beyond.

Lend your voice and help us spread the word!

Here’s how you can get involved throughout Africa Mask Week, November 23-30:

  • Adapt and share content across platforms using our sample social media posts from our social media and communications toolkit.
  • Highlight your involvement throughout the week by using the hashtag #AfricaMaskWeek.
  • Follow, retweet, share or like content from the Network.
  • Create your own content with people across your organization who are wearing masks during #AfricaMaskWeek and beyond.
  • Take a selfie of yourself wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth. Get creative with fabric patterns and designs – we want to see how you style your mask!
  • If you can, tag the Pandemic Action Network in your custom posts and we will amplify with partners and through our social channels.
  • Make it personal: Issue a #WearAMask challenge to your followers by posting a photo tagged #WearAMask #AfricaMaskWeek and tag friends to do the same!

 

Guaranteeing Equitable Access: Considerations During Vaccine Development Impacting Global Access

As world leaders come together to strategize how best to inoculate against, test for, and treat COVID-19 across the world, they must prioritize equity in their agendas to end this pandemic as swiftly as possible. The Pandemic Action Network’s Ending Barriers to Equitable Access Working Group has crafted a briefing with key considerations for decision-makers to ensure vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics reach those who need it most, when they need it most. We are all at risk until this disease is defeated internationally. We must ensure that low- and middle-income countries and vulnerable groups have equitable access to the tools needed to fight COVID-19 on every front. Read the full paper here.

Contributors to the paper include Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW), Global Citizen, Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), PATH, and VillageReach. Special thank you to DSW for design support.

Statement on President-Elect Biden’s Announcement of Ron Klain as Next White House Chief of Staff

The Pandemic Action Network welcomes President-elect Joe Biden’s appointment of Ron Klain to serve as the White House Chief of Staff for President-elect Biden.

Together with the Biden-Harris transition team’s announcement earlier this week of a seven-point plan to fight COVID-19 and a COVID-19 Advisory Board of seasoned public health experts, Klain’s appointment is a welcome signal that the incoming administration will make pandemics a top priority.

Network Co-founders Gabrielle Fitzgerald and Carolyn Reynolds stated, “Getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control is job one for the Biden-Harris Administration. Ron’s experience as Ebola Czar and his continuing advocacy will bring a strong manager and voice on pandemic threats to the White House. When it comes to pandemics, it’s time to break the cycle of panic and neglect once and for all. The Pandemic Action Network looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to do everything we can to end this pandemic and invest in better preparedness in the United States and around the world so that this never happens again.”

It’s Time for Africa Mask Week

By Nahashon Alouka, Regional Advisor for East and South Africa, Pandemic Action Network

As the world continues to be ravaged by the novel coronavirus, Africa has not been spared. With current cases exceeding 1.8 million and 43,000 deaths, Africa may have not yet suffered the exponential spread of infection as initially feared by many, but we are not out of the woods. If the recent alarming rises in cases in other parts of the world are any indicator for future risk and as more countries on the continent begin to report high daily infection rates, now is the time to be vigilant to protect our communities.

That’s why the Pandemic Action Network, together with Africa CDC, the Office of the AU Youth Envoy, Resolve to Save Lives, and 55+ partner organizations are launching Africa Mask Week from November 23-30 to accelerate and sustain mask-wearing to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on the continent. Africa Mask Week will rally a social media movement of leaders and people to share and show that when we wear a mask, we are protecting our friends, our families, and our communities. 

Africa Mask Week aims to engage people across the continent with the support of the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Working Group and many other national partners. The campaign seeks to further awareness and understanding of the risks associated with COVID-19, influence increased adoption of mask-wearing as the new normal, encourage effective formulation and enforcement of policies on mandatory use of masks in public places, and influence policymakers to model proper masking behavior.

Until there are vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, wearing a mask is one of the best tools we have, especially when combined with physical distancing and hand washing. Overall, mask use in Africa is declining, but the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. We need leaders and the public to keep practicing what works to stop the spread. “COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the transfer of droplets. As the pandemic continues to gain momentum in Africa, we must increase compliance to the public health and social measures so we can protect ourselves and protect our economy. We must increase mass wearing of masks as we expand testing and treatment services,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.

Today, more than 40 African countries have enacted policies on mandatory use of masks in public. The implementation has, however, been inconsistent and, in some cases, marred by human rights violations. Furthermore, there are documented rumors, untruths, and stigmatization of those who wear masks.

Africa Mask Week is an opportunity to turn the tide on inconsistent masking and misperceptions. Recent COVID-19 KAP survey data reveals that there is a high awareness and value for masking in Africa with 84 percent of respondents saying that wearing a face mask in public when near others is “absolutely necessary”. But we know that we are not practicing masking consistently and COVID-19 is not going away any time soon. It is important that we accelerate and sustain mask-wearing on the continent to reduce the spread of infections in our communities. There is increasing evidence in support of masking:

  • Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. They serve as barriers that help prevent droplets from traveling into the air.1,2,3
  • Since people may have COVID-19, but not know it or have symptoms, consistent mask-wearing can reduce the spread of the virus.4,5 
  • A study published in The Lancet examined data from 172 studies from 16 countries and six continents and found that face mask use could result in a large reduction in the risk of infection.6

 

Join us for Africa Mask Week – November 23-30 – by engaging your networks including policymakers, traditional and religious leaders, celebrities and other influencers, friends, and community members. Lead by example and #WearAMask to protect your community. Together we can stop the spread of COVID-19.

Contact: Autumn Lerner, Director of Communications, Pandemic Action Network at [email protected]

“Vaccines Don’t Deliver Themselves, Health Workers Do.” – Last Mile Health CEO Raj Panjabi at World Bank and IMF Annual Meeting on COVID-19

 

On October 21, 2020, Last Mile Health CEO Dr. Raj Panjabi shared the following remarks at the World Bank Group and IMF Annual Meeting event on “Investing in COVID-19 Vaccines & Primary Health Care Delivery Systems.”

This summer, I came home after testing patients in a COVID-19 clinic where I was forced to reuse the same gown all day. When I got home, I didn’t want to risk infecting my family. So I took off all my clothes before entering the front door. My children were amused, but I was worried.

And I have been even more worried for my fellow health workers around the world. Without masks, community health workers knock on doors in the poorest neighborhoods to find COVID-19 patients. Without face shields, midwives try to deliver babies in community clinics. Without gloves, nurses canoe across rivers to deliver vaccines to families in the rainforest.

We applaud frontline health workers as heroes. We respect them but don’t protect them. Over 7,000 unprotected health workers have died from COVID-19.

We pray for them but don’t pay them. Over $1 trillion of work by women in health care – many as community health workers, nurses and midwives – goes unpaid.

Yes, vaccines can save lives. Yes, vaccines can speed up economic recovery. But no, vaccines will not be a ‘magic bullet’ – because vaccines don’t deliver themselves, health workers do.

We are honored to partner with many of you to invest in paying and protecting community-based health workers. We know this isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. We know every dollar we invest in community health workers returns ten dollars to the economy through saving lives and creating jobs. During this recovery, we should ask not only how our health policies, but also economic initiatives, can seize this opportunity to protect lives and livelihoods at the same time.

When epidemics like smallpox and polio threatened to bring humanity to its knees, community-based health workers did not surrender. They went door-to-door to vaccinate billions around the world. Now, health workers are prepared to go as far as it takes to control COVID-19. The question is, are we prepared to go as far as it takes to invest in them?

 

The Next Pandemic Won’t Wait: An Agenda for Action to Strengthen Global Preparedness

While the world is focused on the COVID-19 response, we cannot afford to continue to ignore or delay action to bolster global preparedness for emerging pandemic threats. The Pandemic Action Network released a brief paper with topline recommendations from our Global Health Security Architecture working group urging world leaders to take steps now that will help prevent the next pandemic. Read the paper here.

Pandemic Action Network’s Statement of Support for Full Funding of the Act Accelerator

Statement from Carolyn Reynolds and Eloise Todd, Co-Founders, Pandemic Action Network

“Today was anToday was an important step forward for global solidarity and toward the global goal of ensuring safe, equitable and affordable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for COVID-19 as soon as possible.  The Pandemic Action Network warmly welcomes funding commitments from Canada, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank that will help deliver more COVID-19 tools in developing countries. We urge all governments and international funders to follow their lead and ensure full funding for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.  In addition, we strongly commend the unprecedented communique signed by the CEOs of 16 pharmaceutical companies and the co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, committing to enable affordability for lower income countries and to support effective and equitable distribution of innovations globally, while ensuring public confidence in those innovations with a commitment to safety. As the communique rightly says, these commitments will not only enable a faster path out of the current COVID-19 crisis but will also lay the foundation for a strong pandemic preparedness ecosystem the next time a pandemic arises.”

GPMB to World Leaders: Now Will You Listen?

By Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder Pandemic Action Network

 

We warned you, but you did not listen.  That’s the overarching message of the new report from the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) entitled A World in Disorder.  In their inaugural report one year ago, the GPMB warned of the risk of a high impact, respiratory pathogen that could quickly spread around the globe.  Now in their latest report with a starker cover and a sterner title and narrative―much like parents admonishing their delinquent teenagers―the current and former global health elders that make up the GPMB are wagging their fingers and telling world leaders: you’re out of chances.

This year’s report echoes many of the main messages from last year’s (and from many other expert commissions in recent years), including: national political leadership is paramount; investing in preparedness is not only about saving lives, it’s about protecting economies; the impact―and hence the solutions―of pandemic preparedness go well beyond the health sector, and require a One Health approach; and no one in the world is safe until everyone is safe.

Four recommendations in the report that are particularly welcome:

The UN Secretary General should convene a UN Summit on Global Health Security with heads of state, the WHO Director General, and heads of the International Financial Institutions to forge a new international preparedness and response framework.

Create a new sustainable financing mechanism for global health security that incentivizes nations to prioritize preparedness and recognizes it as a global common good that should not be at the mercy of political and economic cycles.  This echoes the call of many of our Network partners for a Global Health Security Challenge Fund.

Amend the International Health Regulations (IHRs) to improve access to information and increase member state accountability beyond the scope of the current IHRs.  This will be politically fraught but unavoidable to drive the change necessary.

Finance global health R&D as a public good by building on the unprecedented international scientific collaboration around COVID-19 to create a sustainable, coordinated global R&D financing and delivery mechanism to facilitate rapid R&D for epidemic-risk and novel diseases and ensure that every country has an affordable and reliable pathway to secure vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other medical countermeasures for health emergencies when they need them.

Unfortunately (although not surprisingly), the request for a high-level summit was stripped from the omnibus COVID-19 resolution passed by this year’s UN General Assembly, a casualty of the highly polarized geopolitical environment. But advocates should not be deterred.  Such a summit to prioritize pandemics as a grave global security threat, secure high-level political commitments, and drive a new international consensus and accountability is the right call to action.  The Pandemic Action Network and our partners will be pressing world leaders to convene this summit before the end of 2021―this should happen as soon as possible after the Independent Panel on Preparedness and Response delivers its report to the World Health Assembly next May.  To ensure this results in meaningful change by governments and international institutions, the planning should get underway now.

Does this year’s GPMB report have a better chance than its predecessor to convince policymakers to act?  I am cautiously optimistic, for two reasons. First, its warning is no longer hypothetical. The COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding before our eyes, with no end yet in sight, and it looks likely to get worse before it gets better as we see resurgences around the globe and flu season gets underway.  If there was ever a time that political leaders may be open to do something, this should be it.

Second, we now have a global advocacy effort focused on preparedness to take up these calls for action and hold national and global leaders to account.  GPMB co-chair As Sy, the former Secretary-General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said we need “a global movement of solidarity” committed to inclusion, partnership and compassion to make the world safer from pandemics.  The Pandemic Action Network is dedicated to growing this movement: In a few short months we have brought together more than 40 organizations with global reach to drive collective action to end this pandemic and help prevent the next one.  And we are just getting started.

At the GPMB report launch, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “If we do not learn these lessons now and take the steps necessary, when will we? This will not be the last pandemic or global health emergency.  Every day we stand by and do nothing is another day we come closer to the next disaster.  We don’t know what it will be, but we know it will come―and we must prepare.  When it comes to preparedness, our biggest obstacle is ourselves.”

The warnings are crystal clear. So, will leaders listen this time and do what is required to prepare for the next pandemic? The Pandemic Action Network is here to make sure they do.  Join us!

World Mask Week Sparks Global Movement

Leaders and people around the globe and across sectors unite around the importance of mask wearing to slowing the pandemic

 

When the Pandemic Action Network, WHO, Africa CDC, CDC and CDC Foundation, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Facebook, Google, Global Citizen and 40+ partner organizations announced the launch of World Mask Week (August 7-14), we hoped for a rally around the simple behavior people could adopt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

While the full accounting of the reach and engagement around World Mask Week will emerge in coming days and weeks, here’s what we know now: the world was ready and hungry for this moment. In 117 countries around the world via media coverage and social media, from business leaders to government leaders, and from celebrities to people living their daily lives– we’ve seen an outpouring of support for wearing masks in public to help put an end to this pandemic.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus kicked off the movement with the #WearAMask challenge marking the beginning of World Mask Week and asking people to share pictures and videos of their masks. And from there, the momentum continued to build with more than 800 thousand views, 4.6K+ shares and 7.8K likes to date on Twitter.

Africa CDC announced World Mask Week at a press briefing, followed by a Pandemic Action team presentation during a training on infection prevention and control for COVID-19 for 260 journalists. Our colleagues on the continent also reached out to more than 200 sports journalists with tailored messaging and encouraging their participation in the challenge issued by Dr. Tedros. World Mask Week has inspired planning for a regional campaign with Africa CDC to promote masks across the region.

World Mask Week partners from across the global shared content on social media
including Africa CDC, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Breakthrough ACTION, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, CDC, CDC Foundation, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Federation of American Scientists, FIND, GHTC, Global Citizen, Global Health Strategies, Johnson & Johnson, Kolisi Foundation, Last Mile Health, MSH, NFID, NTI, NYAS, ONE, PATH, PSI, UN Foundation, UNICEF, and many, many more.


Sample media coverage from 31 countries
includes USA Today (times two!), Good Morning America, Forbes, San Francisco Chronicle/MSN, Yahoo News, Modern Ghana, The Sun in Nigeria, Armenia Public Radio, OTV in India, International Daily News in China and Orel Times in Russia just to name a few.

Tech partners like Facebook, Google and Amazon have also centered World Mask Week. Facebook shared #WearAMask on their platform and amplified the message via their leaders including Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Naomi Gleit. Google posted a #WearAMask Google Doodle and shared World Mask Week social posts across their channels, as did Amazon.

Business leaders and businesses including Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, Kenneth Cole, Rite Aid, KFC Russia, and Viber also shared messages for World Mask Week.

World Economic Forum and their Global Shaper (over 9,500 members) and Young Global Leader (1,300 members and alumni) networks joined the effort on social media, while also featuring a blog post by Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Gabrielle Fitzgerald and Rajeev Venkayya, President of Global Vaccine Business Unit, Takeda sharing why wearing a mask is the most important thing we can do right now. This was also shared on their COVID Action Platform.

The gaming industry, under its #PlayApartTogether initiative, integrated World Mask Week messages and images into its games. Zynga, for example, through its popular Words With Friends 2 app launched World Mask Week with MASK as their World of the Day. The Episode app, a mobile storytelling platform where users choose the path of their story, promoted World Mask Week to its users.

FOX’s hit show The Masked Singer also joined the World Mask Week fun! They featured a special #WearAMask PSA for World Mask Week, and judge/comedian Dr. Ken Jeong posted on social. Throughout the week, FOX affiliates across the U.S. aired stories about the PSA and World Mask Week, including Good Day LA.

iHeartMedia also spotlighted the week, noting for their program directors: “…trending on social media with all demographics are posts about World Mask Week”.  The iHeart Communities podcast with Ryan Gorman interviewed Linda Venczel, Director, Global Health Security at PATH that was broadcasted 185 times across the country. Kang-Xing Jin, Head of Health at Facebook also participated in an interview with Gorman that aired on stations around the U.S. over the weekend.

The Pandemic Action team published a policy briefing called Why Masks Matter” explaining the growing global evidence for wearing a mask in public. Read a blog post from Co-Founder Eloise Todd to learn more. And just this week we’ve seen national and local governments adopt public mask mandates, including Ireland and the city of Brussels, with calls for a national mask mandate by leaders in the United States.

The US Congress also joined in World Mask Week and took up the #WearAMask challenge.  Senators  Toomey (R-PA) and Bennet (D-CO) kicked off the challenge in Congress and urged other Senators and Representatives to champion the message to their constituents, with their bipartisan resolution to encourage Americans to #WearAMask.  Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) also introduced a similar resolution in the House of Representatives to designate August 7-August 14, 2020 as World Mask Week.

Leaders from across the globe joined the conversation including Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Sweden;  Judy Monroe, President of the CDC Foundation; Dagmawit Moges, Minister of Transport, Ethiopia; Dr. Jerome Adams, US Surgeon General; Dr. Robert Redfield, US CDC Director; US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV); US Representative David B. McKinley (R-WV); and many more.

Building on the Network’s #MaskingForAFriend campaign started in April, influencers and celebrities joined the World Mask Week movement including Kristin Chenoweth, Iris Apfel, Mayim Bialik, Billie Jean King, Tenille Arts and others. We welcome all performers, athletes and other influencers to continue to role model mask-wearing, because we’re all in this together!

 

The impact of this massive rally – this show of global solidarity – will reveal its impact as we see increases in people habitually wearing masks, in policies that mandate mask-wearing in public and in community-efforts to increase access to PPE, such as the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa.

For this to occur, the momentum must continue! While the spark ignited during World Mask Week, the energy, collaboration, and efforts must extend beyond the week. And we know that you – the partners and supporters of the Pandemic Action Network – are up for the challenge! You have already done so much, had such a massive impact, and we know that you will continue to help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And for that, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.

Advocates Hail Bipartisan Senate Push to Urge Americans to Wear Masks in Public to Slow Spread of COVID-19

Toomey-Bennet Resolution, World Mask Week reinforce importance to #WearAMask

 

August 13, 2020, Washington, DC —The Federation of American Scientists and the Pandemic Action Network today lauded a bipartisan resolution led by US Senators Patrick Toomey (R-PA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to urge Americans to wear a mask when they are out in public. The announcement comes as the two groups have joined with the Centers for Disease Control, CDC Foundation, WHO, and 40+ partner organizations to launch World Mask Week from August 7-14 to increase the use of face coverings in public across the globe.

“We commend Senators Toomey and Bennet and their co-sponsors for their leadership in sending this critical message to the American people,” said Dr. Ali Nouri, President, Federation of American Scientists. “The evidence on mask wearing is clear – together with hand washing and physical distancing, it is one of the best tools we have to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

“Wearing a mask should not be controversial. Study after study affirms that wearing a mask reduces the spread of coronavirus,” said Senator Pat Toomey. “As our economy continues to reopen and until a vaccine is available, wearing a face mask when you venture out is the most practical and cost effective manner in which we, as Americans, can do our part to protect one another. Please, for the benefit of your neighbors, friends, and those who live in your community, wear a mask. I thank the Pandemic Action Network for their continued advocacy on this important issue.”

“As COVID-19 continues to spread, this is a time for every American to take personal responsibility by wearing a mask in public,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “Mask wearing is an easy and inexpensive way for every American to do their part in the fight against this virus. The science is clear that wearing a mask significantly limits the transmission of the virus and helps keep those around you and your community safe. I’m grateful for the Pandemic Action Network’s support of my resolution with Senator Toomey urging mask wearing and for their work to advance this effort in the United States and around the world.”

“The Toomey-Bennet resolution reinforces our core message of World Mask Week: Wearing a mask saves lives,” said Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “It is critical that all of our elected leaders deliver clear and consistent messages and public policies on this, and I urge every member of the US Senate to follow their lead and show Americans that this is not a partisan issue.”

Americans can show their support for World Mask Week by sharing a statement, picture or video on social media, tagged with #WorldMaskWeek and #WearAMask. Visit worldmaskweek.com for more.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.

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Why Masks Matter

The Pandemic Action team has released a briefing on Why Masks Matter, detailing the growing evidence that wearing a mask or face covering can help slow the spread of the disease and save lives – especially when paired with handwashing, social distancing and when governments introduce effective test and trace policies. Until we have widely available treatments or a vaccine for COVID-19, it is up to every one of us to step up and do all we can to help beat this disease.

The evidence is piling up as to the effectiveness of mask-wearing. Masks are effective because they block large droplets from the wearer of the mask before they become aerosolized. New evidence also shows that mask wearing can reduce the amount of viral load that is passed on – lessening the severity of the impact of the disease on others .

Mask-wearing protects the people around you – my mask protects you and yours protects me, and there is increasing evidence masks help protect the wearer too. So, who should wear a mask, and when? We believe that to fight this pandemic as swiftly and effectively as possible, mask wearing needs to become the new normal. Here’s why:

First, people may have COVID-19 without knowing it. Studies show that people infected with COVID-19 may start to be infectious 1-3 days before the onset of their symptoms and they could even be most infectious in the 24 hours before symptoms appear. This underlines how important it is to wear a mask even when we’re feeling fine—plus some people may never show symptoms, but still have the ability to infect others.

Second, the effectiveness of universal masking could be comparable to that of a societal lockdown. Without the enormous economic, social, health and educational costs of closed workplaces, schools, and public spaces and limited geographical mobility. Mask-wearing is a complementary measure to other measures taken by governments, but right now huge decisions that are affecting everyone’s lives, education and livelihoods are being taken often before universal masking and other behaviours have been made policy and communicated widely. Modelling report cited in our brief shows that if everyone wore a mask, we could diminish the scale and the impact of COVID-19 swiftly.

Third, countries are starting to feel the benefits. An Oxford University study found that in countries where face coverings have been introduced as a national policy (often but not always alongside other measures), transmission rates fell in the subsequent days.

For all these reasons and more, we are calling for clear, comprehensive guidance on mask-wearing in public spaces. Our recommendations call for governments to make mask-wearing mandatory in public as well as properly enforce mask-wearing,  communicate the benefits of mask-wearing to the public, ensure mask supplies for healthcare and other frontline workers while also encouraging the public to wear face coverings. We also ask that they lead by example and wear a mask themselves. We call on businesses to adopt and implement mask-wearing policies and for everyone, everywhere, to don a mask when they leave their home. This simple measure can work if enough of us take collective action, wherever we are around the world.

Get involved, get your mask on, take a selfie and tag your friends to share widely. This is how we can help get this disease under control – together we can beat this if we #WearAMask, this #WorldMaskWeek and every week.

What Happened? Global Citizen and European Commission’s Global Goal: Unite for Our Future

For anyone that missed Saturday’s Global Goal: Unite for our Future, here’s what happened. 

First, sitting down to a pledging summit, you don’t necessarily expect to be entertained, educated and inspired. Saturday’s Summit managed all three–and that was before the concert event started. The two hours were dedicated to short, sharp panel discussions between the video clips of leaders giving pledges as well as featuring some partners. The Summit highlighted the role of the real heroes of this pandemic – the health care workers, the scientists, the front line workers, the researchers working hard to keep us safe, treat COVID-19 patients and find cures for and vaccines against this killer disease. Highlights included Miley Cyrus teaming up with Erna Solberg and some moving conversations about the Black Lives Matter protests across the world. Connections were made about the disproportionate suffering of Black people and other minorities in the pandemic as well as through racism. These racial justice segments deeply enriched the Summit and were very rooted in the moment.

But what did the Summit concretely achieve? Two key things: finance for international aspects of the COVID-19 fight and strong political support for making sure this pandemic is ended globally. On finance, the event raised an astonishing $6.9bn in grants and loans to fight COVID-19. Host Ursula von der Leyen got the afternoon off to an incredible start by announcing a €4.9bn loan from the European Investment Bank for the global recovery. 

Other notable contributions included a €383m pledge from Angela Merkel and smaller contributions from a wide range of countries. Global Citizen helpfully published more details after the Summit. Much of the funding raised will go to the Action for COVID Tools Accelerator, with other funds to the World Food Programme, UNFPA and others to combat the impacts the disease is having on many poor communities. Much-welcomed pledges to the WHO were made by Belgium, Qatar, Sweden and others. Increasing multi-donor support for WHO will be more important than ever to fill the financing gap looming with the recent US announcement of its intent to terminate relations with WHO.

The Pandemic Action Network and others have been calling on the European Commission to work with the EIB to extend much-needed liquidity for the global response. Just as countries (and regional blocs like the EU) have borrowed huge amounts to help their own economies recover, we need the same level of ambition for the global recovery and this is a great start.

Thanks to Global Citizen’s policing of the pledges, every announcement referred to new money (a few leaders included references to money pledged before in their video submissions, but they didn’t count in the total) – a huge leap forward in transparency that will help all of us better track funding and disbursements and save precious time. 

Second, the breadth and depth of global solidarity was on full display. Leader after leader pledged money, but also strong commitments to working together across the world to end this pandemic. President von der Leyen set the tone by calling Saturday a ‘stress test for solidarity’. Jacinda Ardern ended her piece with ‘we are all in this together’ and leaders from France, Canada, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and the US ambassador to the UN all called for this crisis to be resolved multilaterally. It was also great to hear Johnson & Johnson commit to producing a COVID-19 vaccine on a not-for-profit basis.

The model for Saturday’s Summit changed the way we will do business during this time of COVID, this time of increased poverty, and amid the racial justice protests that have spread across the world to stand up for equality. When President von der Leyen closed the Summit with “we are in this for the long haul, and we will use all of our convening power for the common good” there are many of us that welcome that statement and we will hold her to it! The collective leadership shown on Saturday is needed for the long haul. Now we need to plan how to raise the rest of the emergency funds the world needs as well as the investments needed to make sure this never happens again. We simply cannot afford not to.

World Mask Week Aims to Inspire Global Movement to Wear Face Coverings in Public to Help Stem Exponential Spread of COVID-19

World Mask Week (August 7-14) launched to encourage more people to do their part by wearing a mask in public

August 6, 2020, Seattle, WA—The Pandemic Action Network, WHO, Africa CDC, CDC and CDC Foundation, Facebook, Google, Global Citizen and 40+ partner organizations announced today the launch of World Mask Week from August 7-14, an effort to increase the use of face coverings in public across the globe.

Given the alarming exponential increase of infection rates across the globe, sustained community masking in public is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19, even as situations vary around the world. And until we have vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, face coverings are one of the best tools we have – particularly where social distancing is not practical.

“COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the transfer of droplets. As the pandemic continues to gain momentum in Africa, we must increase compliance to the public health and social measures so we can protect ourselves and protect our economy. We must increase mass wearing of masks as we expand testing and treatment services,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.

The initiative encourages people and organizations around the world to rally behind the importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 during World Mask Week and every week until there is a vaccine available. People can show their support by sharing a statement, picture or video on social media, tagged with #WorldMaskWeek.

“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires everyone to play a role to keep themselves and their communities safe and healthy. Health experts have made it clear that wearing a mask is a key and simple preventive measure,” said KX Jin, Head of Health, Facebook. “We’re proud to partner on World Mask Week with leading health organizations as part of our commitment to connecting people to the expert guidance of those working on the frontlines.”

“Google is committed to helping share one simple message: Wear a Mask,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google. “From our homepage doodle, to providing information on Google Search and Maps, we are connecting people to helpful, authoritative resources that explain how wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”

The CDC Foundation is another Pandemic Action Network partner marking World Mask Week. “We’re committed to supporting the response to the public health threat posed by this virus, and wearing a face covering consistently and correctly is one of the most important things we can do as individuals to fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Judy Monroe, President and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The CDC Foundation is helping organize and support a number of campaigns, including campaigns with CDC and the Ad Council, focused on the importance of face coverings to crush COVID-19.”

Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. They serve as barriers that help prevent droplets from traveling into the air.1,2,3 Since people may have COVID-19, but not know it or have symptoms, consistent mask wearing can reduce the spread of the virus.4,5 Mathematical modeling shows that masks worn by 80-90 percent of the population coupled with social distancing could eventually eliminate the disease.6

“Inconsistent policies on masking have caused confusion and there is mounting evidence that failing to wear masks is contributing to the spread of COVID-19,” said Eloise Todd, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “Leaders should make clear and consistent policies around the importance of wearing a mask outside the home when in public. If nearly everyone wears a mask, practices handwashing and social distancing we can end the pandemic more quickly, prevent suffering and save lives.”

Global Citizen is supporting World Mask Week by encouraging Global Citizens to wear a mask. “We are proud to support World Mask Week as our supporters take action in every corner of the globe to push their leaders to adopt clear rules on wearing a mask in public,” said Michael Sheldrick, Chief Policy and Government Affairs Officer, Global Citizen. “We also need global leaders to govern by example. When we all wear masks, citizens become more focused on listening to the guidance of the medical community, and together we are better suited to help save lives.”

The Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launch, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask wearing– along with social distancing and handwashing – to help stop the spread of COVID-19. World Mask Week provides the opportunity to continue to sustain this momentum, uniting disparate parties around a single message.

World Mask Week partners and activities represent a broad spectrum. For example:

    • WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus launched the #WearAMask challenge to mark the beginning of World Mask Week, asking people to share their mask photos and videos
    • Africa CDC will announce World Mask Week at their press briefing today and follow-up with a presentation by Pandemic Action Network during a training on infection prevention and control for COVID-19 being organized for journalists later in the day. Africa CDC is also posting messages about World Mask Week on its social media platforms
    • The gaming industry, under its #PlayApartTogether initiative, is integrating World Mask Week messages and images into its games
    • iHeartMedia is integrating World Mask Week content into their programming
    • World Economic Forum and their Global Shaper and Young Global Leader networks will join the campaign via social media

For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.

References
1. CDC. About Cloth Face Coverings. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html.
2. Prather KA, Wang CA, Schooley RT. (2020). Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Science 368(6498):144-1424.
3. Lyu W, Wehby, GL (2020). Community use of face masks and covid-19: evidence from a natural experiment of state mandates in the US. Health Affairs 39(8).
4. Chan TK. (2020). Universal masking for COVID-19: evidence, ethics and recommendations. BMJ Global Health 5:e002819. doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2020-002819.
5. Lai CC, Liu YH, Wang CY, et al. (2020). Asymptomatic carrier state, acute respiratory disease, and pneumonia due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): facts and myths. J Microbiol Immunol Infect 53 (3):404-412. doi:10.1016/j.jmii.2020.02.012.
6. Kai, De, Goldstein, Guy-Philippe, Morgunov, Alexey, Nangalia, Vishal, Rotkirch, Anna, Universal Masking is Urgent in the COVID-19 Pandemic: SEIR and Agent Based Models, Empirical Validation, Policy Recommendations, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340933456_Universal_Masking_is_Urgent_in_the_COVID-19_Pandemic_SEIR_and_Agent_Based_Models.

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Other World Mask Week Commitments

The following organizations are conducting additional activities for World Mask Week:

    • American College of Preventive Medicine will feature World Mask Week at Preventive Medicine 2020 Online (virtual conference)
    • The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is supporting World Mask Week through emails to its tropmed and global health communities, and
      by promoting #WorldMaskWeek on its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages
    • Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will feature World Mask Week in their newsletter and on social media
    • Federation of American Scientists is leading the charge on advocating for a mask-related resolution in the U.S. Congress and supporting World Mask
      Week media and social media
    • FIND Diagnostics is sharing content across their social media channels and pitching an op-ed encouraging people to wear masks
    • Global Health Strategies is sharing content across their social media channels
    • Global Health Council is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign
    • Global Health Technology Coalition is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign
    • Goodbye Malaria is sharing content across their social media channels and is working to share World Mask Week messaging through the Ndlovu Youth
      Choir
    • Grayling is conducting World Mask Week activities in Russia including developing an op-ed for local media, work with influencers to share the message
      and promoting across social media
    • International Association of Providers in AIDS Care (IAPAC) will be participating via social media, through both the @IAPAC and @FastTrackCities
      handles
    • Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs (CCP) and Breakthrough ACTION for Social and Behavior Change are sharing
      World Mask Week with their global CCP field offices and Sister NGO partners
    • Management Sciences for Health is participating in the first ever World Mask Week by highlighting Senior Leadership and field team members across the
      globe on the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus and why they are #maskingforafriend”
    • Nuclear Threat Initiative is sharing content across their social media channels
    • ONE Campaign is publishing a blog and encouraging supporters (via email) to get involved in the week, sharing some of the best tips on how to
      correctly wear a mask on social media and sharing pictures of some of their global activists wearing their masks
    • PATH is sharing content across their social media channels, and Global Health Security Director Linda Venczel is available for media interviews
    • Rockefeller Foundation is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign
    • United Nations Foundation is sharing content across their social media channels and engaging their influencer network to promote the week
    • UNICEF will be sharing UNICEF-related mask content and messaging on social media throughout World Mask Week

Break the Cycle of Panic and Neglect: Preventing the Next Pandemic

Time for unprecedented international cooperation say global health organizations

In the wake of the US decision to terminate the relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), Pandemic Action Network and leading global health organizations have published a brief paper outlining some of the critical steps that the world needs to take to prevent pandemics.

The report sets out a key challenge for global leaders to work together in an unprecedented way to end COVID-19 as swiftly as possible and prepare for future pandemic threats.

The report, published jointly by the Pandemic Action Network, ONE, PATH, Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), Global Health Security Agenda Consortium (GHSAC), Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and Global Citizen highlights how years of ‘panic and neglect’ in the international health system has led to inadequate preparedness for pandemics in every country, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives to COVID-19. Among the report’s recommendations is to strengthen WHO. Read the report HERE.

Pandemic Action Network’s Support for WHO Statement

Pandemic Action Network believes that the world needs a strong World Health Organization both to stop this pandemic and to help ensure every country is better prepared to manage future pandemic threats.  No country is safe from pandemics until every country is safe.  The world is in the midst of the biggest public health crisis in a generation, and global solidarity and collaboration is needed more than ever. US involvement is needed to support and strengthen the World Health Organization to help tackle future pandemics.

The health and safety of Americans – and people around the world – depend on it.  We hope that all countries, including the US, will soon be able to unite to tackle this crisis and prevent future pandemics, and to strengthen and improve the WHO to the benefit of us all.

Can Public-Private Partnerships Help Shift Behaviours to Stop COVID Spread?

I recently shared my thoughts about tackling the COVID-19 infodemic, and the gap that remains between what officials are sharing and what the public is absorbing. We’ve seen first-hand that rumours and misinformation can spread quickly and have real public health consequences during a pandemic. As health communicators, we can help share public health information, in a way that prompts behaviour change. But we can’t do this alone. We need to work together to make the most impact. Last week, I had the opportunity to speak about the importance of this cross-sector collaboration as part of the 2020 Virtual Summit of the Society for Health Communication, a professional society working to advance the field of health communication.

Public private partnerships like the Pandemic Action Network can play an important role in health crises, by ensuring representation from diverse areas of expertise and experience; leveraging existing networks to quickly mobilise resources; and reaching disparate audiences through appropriate and effective channels.

Together with our partners, the Pandemic Action Network serves as the organisational hub for a new behaviour change communications effort. Using “For Humankind” as a united brand platform, we will evolve messaging to support behavioural uptake of localized public health guidance. From encouraging new behaviours such as the use of cloth face coverings, to promoting uptake of testing, or re-engagement with health systems, this platform has the ability to pivot quickly using a range of trusted key influencers. We work with public health experts at institutions like US CDC and Africa CDC to ensure message accuracy, timeliness and relevance. By partnering with local, regional and global influencers and tapping into diverse platforms, from social media to gaming, and in community settings including townships in South Africa, we hope to add, support, facilitate and create where there is need. In the next phase of the campaign, we’re working in partnership with community leaders to identify actionable solutions to COVID-19 related problems. Through our platforms, we will amplify community voices, and ensure that community led responses are also heard. We invite other implementers, experts and partners to join the network to share their work and assets.

Our first campaign, #MaskingForAFriend continues to share messaging endorsed by national public health institutions, to make sure people know how to use homemade cloth face coverings to help stem the flow of infections. Through our partnerships, we’ve gathered global influencers, including athletes and celebrities to rally widespread support for, and normalise the use of, cloth face coverings.

As a Network, we’ve learned that we can increase our footprint by leaning into each other’s strengths. We would love you to join us! Help amplify our calls for smart policies to address COVID-19 and future pandemics. Take part in our behaviour change efforts and share who you’re masking for on your social media pages, using #MaskingForAFriend. Together, we will build our Network and ignite a global movement to help accelerate an end to the current COVID-19 pandemic and enhance our preparedness to stop future pandemics.

Global Advocacy and Communications Effort Launched to Drive Action Against COVID-19 and Stop Future Pandemics

South Africa’s Rugby World Cup Winning Captain Siya Kolisi kickstarts behavior change efforts “For Humankind”; calls on other stars from sports and screen to continue to rally around protective actions, like #MaskingForAFriend

April 22, 2020, Seattle, WA – A network of leading international organizations announced today the creation of an advocacy initiative to ignite a global movement to help accelerate an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance our preparedness to stop future pandemics. The Pandemic Action Network will advocate for policy changes and increased support and resources to ensure countries are better prepared to prevent, detect and respond to pandemic threats. This initiative will also host “For Humankind”, a new effort to promote accurate information to ensure people around the world understand what they need to do to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the extreme fragility in the ability of the world’s systems to respond to a new and highly infectious pathogen. While public health experts have been making this case for years, there has not been complementary policy, advocacy and communications support to create the political will necessary for policy and funding changes to enhance our preparedness.

This effort is being created with support from founding members the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Johnson & Johnson, in addition to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Schmidt Futures. The Network will initially comprise of a dedicated and highly experienced secretariat and key advocacy leaders in Seattle, Washington DC, Brussels, London and Beijing. They will work in partnership with individuals and organizations around the world to advance a robust policy and advocacy agenda.

The Pandemic Action Network will steer this shared agenda, with three overarching objectives:

  • Ensure full funding for the global and country-level COVID-19 response and future pandemic preparedness 
  • Strengthen the global health security architecture for more effective pandemic preparedness and response
  • Accelerate research, development and access to innovations to combat COVID-19 and emerging pandemic threats

A core principle of the Pandemic Action Network is that ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe,’ meaning an equitable global lens is crucial for a successful response. “West Africa’s devastating Ebola epidemic showed us that the world must come together to ensure countries are prepared for outbreaks, including that health workers on the frontlines have the gear and training they need to keep safe and keep serving,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Health Workforce. “Decisive political leadership and global cooperation will determine if we win the war against this invisible enemy, which is why we need the Pandemic Action Network.”

The Pandemic Action Network will be counseled by an international expert advisory council that will initially include Professor Peter Piot, currently director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and previously founding executive director of UNAIDS and the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus, and Dr. Judy Monroe, head of the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit that mobilizes philanthropic and private-sector resources to support the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s work; among others. Additional experts will be announced.

“It’s critical that the philanthropic, public and private sectors work together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “And it’s clear that a coordinated effort is needed to prepare for, and hopefully prevent, the next pandemic. The CDC Foundation is pleased to join the Pandemic Action Network in this goal.”

Private sector support for the Network is led by founding member Johnson & Johnson. The company has been actively engaged in fighting pandemics for more than a century, first introducing the epidemic mask in 1919 to help contain the Spanish Flu. In January it rapidly mobilized its scientific expertise and extensive partnerships to tackle COVID-19. “While we focus on stopping COVID-19 now we must also keep one eye to the future and ensure we are learning from this experience and applying those lessons.  Effective, sustained and coordinated advocacy about the policy and system reforms necessary to prevent future outbreaks will be critical to ensure this happens,” said Adrian Thomas, M.D., Vice President, Global Public Health at Johnson & Johnson. “That’s why the world needs the Pandemic Action Network.”

The Pandemic Action Network will also serve as a hub for expert global communications efforts to amplify public health messaging needed to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Its first digital communications campaign, #MaskingForAFriend, will amplify consistent, accurate messaging endorsed by leading public health officials to make sure people know how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 by using homemade cloth face coverings.

“Everyone has a part to play in protecting the public’s health. We all have agency,” said Dr. Harvey Fineberg, president of the Moore Foundation. “We can use our ingenuity and know-how to reduce everyone’s risk of exposure, create better ways of meeting social needs, reduce the burden of disease, and overcome the dislocation and hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The campaign will initially launch in the United States and South Africa to help increase understanding on the need to use cloth face coverings in public, along with continuing other protective measures like social distancing and handwashing. The Pandemic Action Network will provide an open source global platform for public health messages and materials to be used worldwide. Planned expansions include India and countries in Africa, Europe and South America.

Siya Kolisi, captain of South Africa’s Rugby Team, kicked off the effort, calling on the public in both countries to wear a mask outside their homes to protect others from contracting the virus. Siya, and other influencers like Andy Cohen and Annie Potts, have started posting about how they are #MaskingForAFriend. They also encourage others to join the movement by spreading the word about wearing homemade masks, and sharing a selfie image or video wearing a cloth face covering during essential errands or making masks using the hashtag #MaskingForAFriend.

“I am proud to use my platform to share accurate health information with as many people as possible to help stop this virus in its tracks,” said Kolisi. “As a captain, I now call on other sports leaders to model good protective behavior – whether it be staying home, washing hands or covering your face. We need to do it ‘For Humankind.’”

The Pandemic Action Network is composed of experienced leaders in global advocacy, policy and communications based around the world. It is the brainchild of Gabrielle Fitzgerald (CEO, Panorama), Carolyn Reynolds (Distinguished Fellow with The George Institute for Global Health and Senior Associate with the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS), Eloise Todd (formerly of ONE Campaign and Best for Britain) and David Kyne (CEO of Evoke KYNE, a firm that specializes in international behavior change communications activities, including past efforts during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa). They will be joined by Greg Propper from social impact firm Propper Daley.

“We have known for many years that a pandemic could occur at any point,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, CEO of Panorama, a Seattle-based action tank, and co-founder of Pandemic Action Network. “As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we must build and sustain political will to ensure that policies are put in place, and funding is made available, to ensure all countries are better prepared for the next outbreak.”

The growing list of multilateral organizations, private companies, foundations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector joining the Network include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CDC Foundation, Evoke, Evoke KYNE, Federation of American Scientists, Global Citizen, Global Health Strategies, Global Health Technologies Coalition, Goodbye Malaria, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, iHeart Media, Johnson & Johnson, Last Mile Health, Management Sciences For Health, NTI (Nuclear Threat Initiative), ONE Campaign, PATH, Panorama, Project Everyone, Propper Daley, Schmidt Futures, The Kolisi Foundation, UN Foundation, Wellcome and #PlayAPartTogether, a group of more than 70 gaming companies.

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Media contacts:

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Harriet Mooney (UK)

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