Pandemic Action Network Statement on the Second Global COVID-19 Summit

The Second Global COVID-19 Summit showed a renewed commitment to end the COVID-19 crisis and prevent the next pandemic threat. Against complacency and pandemic fatigue, leaders from over 35 countries, the private sector, philanthropy, and civil society brought forward new actions and commitments — both financial and non-financial — to meet urgent needs across the summit’s priorities of vaccinating the world, protecting the most vulnerable, and preventing future pandemics. Financial commitments totaled almost US$3.2 billion, with approximately US$2.5 billion in funding from governments, and approximately US$700 million from the private sector, foundations, and other non-government actors.

Statement from Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network

Today’s Global COVID-19 Summit was a win against complacency and has provided a much-needed shot in the arm for both the global COVID response and to begin to prepare the world for the next pandemic threat. We are pleased that the Summit has yielded important new commitments to vaccinate the world, save lives, and nearly US$1 billion to establish a new Fund for global health security and pandemic preparedness. This is a significant down payment and enables the World Bank to move forward on establishing the Fund this summer. But we must maintain the momentum beyond today and political leaders must stay in the fight. This pandemic is not over, and the world must move faster to deliver lifesaving tools and prepare for whatever variant or pandemic threat is coming next. The U.S. Congress must urgently approve additional funding for the global COVID response, and other governments and private and philanthropic partners must step up support for the response and for the Fund as soon as possible. 

Statement from Eloise Todd, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network

World leaders‘ commitments at the Global COVID-19 Summit today have helped give a much-needed reset to the global COVID response. But without sustained and decisive action, the world could slip into permanent inequity between those that are able to be treated and vaccinated for COVID-19 and those that are not. All eyes are on global and regional bodies to see how they can build on today’s starting shot and deliver real progress by the G7 Summit at the end of June. 

As long championed by Pandemic Action Network, equity featured prominently in both reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic and in new commitments. We welcome commitments and new investments to close the funding gap for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), solve for last-mile vaccination delivery challenges, accelerate access to generic therapeutics, and diversify manufacturing and procurement of medical countermeasures to build strong and sustainable systems in every region of the world. 

Pandemic Action Network was also pleased to see political and financial support for a new Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness from across sectors. As we double down to end the COVID-19 pandemic, we also must look ahead and prepare both for future COVID-19 variants and emerging disease threats. Government leaders from around the world stepped up today to support a new pandemic preparedness fund and advocated for the need to include diverse voices in the design and governance of a new fund. Financial commitments from the U.S., European Commission, Germany, and the Wellcome Trust total nearly US$1 billion, and represent a significant down payment toward the US$10 billion needed annually for this Fund.

But while today’s Summit serves as a needed jolt to the global COVID-19 effort, there is still much work to do. Today’s financial commitments for response sum just over US$2 billion, and while this funding is urgently needed, it’s long overdue and far short of the current ACT-A funding gap (nearly $US15 billion). It is critical that all governments and sectors step up and prioritize significant new resources to end the global COVID crisis — including the U.S. Congress and Administration working together to transcend politics and quickly pass at least US$5 billion for the global COVID-19 response. In addition, it is critical to heed the call from many African leaders for Gavi, the Global Fund, and other vaccine purchasers to prioritize purchases from African vaccine manufacturers to ensure new facilities are sustainable. It will also be important for a diversity of donors and stakeholders to commit to the new Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness to ensure it is inclusive, representative, and effective. 

As we look ahead to the World Health Assembly, G7 and G20 Summits, and UN General Assembly, Pandemic Action Network will stay vigilant to make sure Summit commitments are realized and accountable, and that world leaders are collectively challenging themselves to do whatever it takes to end this crisis for everyone, everywhere.

Civil Society Support Calls for Increased Quality in Dose Donations to Africa

The Africa Working Group on Pandemic Preparedness and Response supports the Joint Statement on Dose Donations of COVID-19 Vaccines to African Countries by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), and COVAX published on November 29, 2021.

The statement draws the attention of the international community to the quality of donations of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa, and other COVAX participating economies, particularly those supported by the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

Read the full letter here.

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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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

Civil Society Leaders Urge Kristalina Georgieva to Do ‘Whatever It Takes’ to Vaccinate the World

Dear Kristalina Georgieva,

We are writing from a wide range of organizations to thank you for the leadership you have shown in convening a task force to implement a roadmap to vaccinate the world. We would like to call on you to bear the following principles in mind as you take that work forward:

Draw up the plan, commit to doing whatever it takes to vaccinate at least 70% of people in all countries, and get them the tests, treatments, and PPE they need alongside vaccines. A comprehensive, coordinated strategy to get to global herd immunity as soon as possible is urgently needed. Many organizations are drawing up such plans, but you are in a position to draw all of these strands together and make sure there is a one-stop-shop costing that is not limited by numbers, mandates, or politics, but focuses on setting out what it will take to end this pandemic.

Make US$50B the floor; the ceiling will be much higher: Most existing calls for funding are focused on procurement.  Yet multiple studies show that it will take billions more on to fully deliver a global response that enables countries to deliver a COVID-19 response and mitigates the impacts of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable. Your plan needs to include a comprehensive costing and analysis covering all elements of the global response. This should identify gaps in supply, procurement, as well as resources needed in-country for the delivery of vaccines, tests, and treatments – ACT-A finance, for example, does not cover rollout costs from “tarmac to arm” of its own vaccines. Ensuring the costs needed to administer vaccines and other COVID-19 tools — including to health systems and health workers, including frontline and community health workers — are also met, so that vaccines and other tools are not just available but also delivered and administered, as part of a fully-costed global plan to reach global herd immunity.

Maximize grant funding for the global response: As you have said ‘vaccine policy is economic policy’, and until countries are vaccinated to at least 70%, all other COVID-19 tools — tests, treatments, PPE, and the ability to deliver all tools — are an integral part of the strategy. We are looking at a situation in which the best investment high-income countries (HICs) could make is investing in the global response, and they should do this from their own reserves, outside of ODA budgets. We ask that you maximize grant funding for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) within this plan and get HICs to agree to a burden-sharing model to set out fair share contributions leveraging funding streams outside of ODA budgets.

Maximize the 650B in SDRs, frontloading whatever is possible: Your team is looking at recycling options for the 650B in SDRs. Announcements so far suggest that 100B of this might be available for LMICs. We should make as much of the 650B as possible available for LMICs to both help their domestic budget situations and fund the global deployment of COVID-19 tools as well as potentially freeing up funding for climate needs as set out in the G7 communiqué. We urge you to look at ways to free up as much of the 650B for LMICs, and to maximize the amount that can be freed up in the short term to contribute to funding the global COVID-19 response. 

Bring stakeholders into the War Room: Representatives from LMICs, health ministries, health agencies, and civil society can all help advise on your work. Bring us in, we are ready to contribute. 

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these urgent matters with you in the coming days, at your convenience — we have no time to waste. Many thanks for your attention to these issues, and we look forward to hearing from you. 

Your sincerely,

Eloise Todd
Co-founder
Pandemic Action Network

On behalf of:


PATH

 

If your organization would like to sign on, please email Hanna Hwang

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

G20 Finance Ministers Urged to Fill the Huge Gaps Left by the G7 on Finance and Vaccines

Dear G20 Finance Ministers,

The G7 collectively, and most countries individually, have so far failed to absorb the necessity of collective global action and investment. We cannot afford to continue with the piecemeal approach that has characterized the global response until now. We are therefore writing to you in advance of your G20 Finance Ministerial meeting so that by 9-10 July you can take actions that will: fill the gaps left by the G7 on urgent dose-sharing, increase transparency to facilitate efficient tracking and accountability in this crisis, and come up with credible financing to back the emerging plan from Kristalina Georgieva to vaccinate the world.

Firstly, on dose sharing, the G7 pledge to share 870 million doses over the next year is far from the quantity requested by the WHO and lacks solidarity given the third wave that is building momentum in many under-vaccinated regions. Dose-sharing is urgently needed, not as a long-term solution, but to plug the immediate vaccine supply gap in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We need G20 countries to fill COVAX’s gap for this summer. The majority of the dose-sharing announced at the G7 Summit will not be delivered till well into 2022. Therefore, we call on you not to let the meeting finish before the G20 have collectively found the doses needed to fill COVAX’s supply shortage — 275 million doses for June alone — and we are reiterating the call for 1 billion doses to be shared by the end of August 2021.

Secondly, we need bolder agreements for the medium term and absolute transparency on vaccine supply. In order to shine a light on what is going wrong in vaccine supply and create better understanding of the system, as well as sharing doses now to fill the COVAX supply gap, we also ask that you:

– plan to share at least 1 billion doses by the end of August and at least 2 billion doses by the end of the year, which must be counted as an addition to current ODA levels and global development priorities;

– clearly commit to share all of your excess doses by Q1 2022; and,

– publish a detailed month-by-month timeline to the end of 2022 of doses promised and doses actually delivered and publish the prices the G20 and COVAX have paid for doses.

We know that G7 countries alone have bought three billion more doses than they need to fully vaccinate their entire population to 70%, but the G7 pledge provided only enough doses to vaccinate 10.3% of the population in LMICs. Since we sent these letters to each of you individually, head of the WTO Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called for the G20 to give 3bn doses when they meet – this is exactly the kind of ambition and action we need right now to get this response on track.

Thirdly, it is vital that Finance Ministers commit to backing a fully-costed, coordinated, and comprehensive Global Roadmap to Vaccinate the World covering end-to-end finance for vaccines, tests, treatments and PPE, dose donations, and tech and patent policies. Kristalina Georgieva has committed to developing a roadmap — we want to see the G20 Finance Ministers commit to financing such a roadmap. Latest estimates anticipate that it will cost at least US$50-66B simply to provide doses to vaccinate the world. We want a comprehensive plan that covers tests, treatments, PPE, and vaccines — as well as covering end-to-end delivery costs so that vaccines and other COVID-19 tools are not left on the tarmac and can be delivered. This will require innovative solutions using Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) in the medium term but also scaling grant funding now. We welcome the G7’s recent commitment to reallocate their new SDRs to the poorest and most vulnerable countries struggling to tackle COVID-19, health systems, hunger, education, and economic fallout of the pandemic. We now urge the G20 to reallocate most, if not all, of their new SDRs to vulnerable countries by the end of the year, to support health and climate in particular, and an equitable and green recovery, and ask that countries publicly share how much they will contribute to this goal.

We can no longer afford to wait to take concrete action to end COVID-19, and we hope the G20 can deliver the leadership the world needs. We are counting on you to take immediate action to fill the vaccine gap now and to fund the plan to vaccinate the world.

Vaccine policy is economic policy, and until countries are vaccinated to at least 70%, all other COVID-19 tools — tests, treatments, PPE, and the ability to deliver all tools — are an integral part of the vaccination strategy. We are counting on you to fill the dose gap, deliver the COVID-19 tools we need, and find the funding so we can stop the spread and save lives. We are counting on you and your fellow Ministers to take the urgent steps needed now to help protect us all. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you in the coming days, at your convenience.

Many thanks for your urgent attention to these matters, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Your sincerely,


PATH
 
 

Lots of Warm Words, Barely No Action — Is the G7 Still Relevant?

By Isabelle De Lichtervelde, Senior Program Officer, Policy & Advocacy

Last week, I wrote about our hopes and asks for the G7 Leaders’ Summit. At their annual gathering, G7 leaders faced two choices: they could either decide to take the fight against COVID-19 to another level and agree on a comprehensive global plan to end the pandemic everywhere for everyone or choose to continue with the piecemeal approach that has characterized the global response until now. Distracted by domestic issues, such as Brexit, they sadly went for the latter. The G7 communiqué contains a lot of warm words such as “a collective goal of ending the pandemic in 2022” and a commitment to both “strengthen global action now to fight COVID-19, and to take further tangible steps to improve our collective defenses against future threats and to bolster global health and health security”, but very little action to turn these statements into reality.

Here are some of our main take-aways (for a line-by-line emoji-based assessment of the health and development portions of the communiqué, click here):

  • On dose sharing, with the exception of the U.S. pledge to purchase 500 million Pfizer doses, the collective level of ambition failed to meet the urgency of the moment. G7 leaders committed “to share at least 870 million doses directly over the next year” and to “make these doses available as soon as possible and aim to deliver at least half by the end of 2021 primarily channelled through COVAX towards those in greatest need”. This is far from enough. Dose-sharing is urgently needed NOW, not as a long-term solution, but to plug the significant vaccine supply gap in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) caused by rich countries massively overbuying doses. Our ask is one billion doses by the end of August and at least two billion doses by the end of 2021. According to publicly-available data, G7 countries have bought three billion more doses than they need to fully vaccinate their entire population to 70%. On top of that, the pharma company’s own data shows that there will be 5 billion doses in circulation by the end of August and a staggering 11 billion doses by the end of the year. Yet, G7 leaders have only agreed to share 870 million doses over the next 12 months. According to a new analysis, this will provide only enough doses to vaccinate 10.3% of the population in LMICs.
  • While COVID is still raging, particularly in countries in need, the G7 didn’t make any new financial commitments to end COVID globally. ACT-A is still facing a US$18.1Bn funding gap and the latest estimates anticipate that it will cost at least US$50-66B to fully vaccinate the world — and likely much more when end-to-end delivery costs are factored in. Yet G7 leaders simply claimed pledges made in the past, without any concrete action to finance a global roadmap to end the pandemic in the coming months.
  • On a slightly more positive note, the G7 supported the extension of ACT-A and increased transparency on procurement and delivery data for both donor and recipient countries. The communiqué reads “efforts on this scale require close monitoring of progress made by ACT-A with reliable, transparent, up-to-date and clear information on procurement and delivery to both donor and recipient countries in close partnership with regional organizations. Progress should be reported to the G20 in Rome.” We need total transparency around vaccine production in order for the world to be able to get COVID-19 under control — see our transparency guidelines here. The Network will follow this important issue and continue to push for progress at the G20 meeting later this year.
  • On pandemic preparedness, the G7 outcome document is full of positive language but very little action, including around financing mechanisms for pandemic preparedness. The G7 committed to “explore options for building consensus this year, around sustainable global health and health security financing, supported by robust financial reporting, increased and defined accountability, and oversight”, — a potentially positive baby step toward having a catalytic, sustainable, and multilateral financing mechanism that is dedicated to promoting pandemic preparedness and prevention.


To quote the Network’s co-founder, Eloise Todd, “in footballing terms, the G7 had the ball in front of the net, open goal, and they skied it.” The consequence of this disappointing G7 Summit will be a prolonged pandemic, with more lives lost around the globe.

When will someone finally demonstrate the political leadership needed to end this pandemic?

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.

It’s G7 Week — Will It Deliver the Global COVID-19 Plan We Desperately Need?

By Isabelle De Lichtervelde, Senior Program Officer, Policy & Advocacy

This week, all eyes will be on the G7 leaders as they meet in Cornwall for their annual Leaders’ Summit. At the gathering, leaders of the world’s seven largest advanced economies face two choices: they can either decide to take the fight against COVID-19 to another level and agree on a comprehensive global plan to end the pandemic everywhere for everyone or choose to continue with the piecemeal approach that has characterized the global response until now, thus prolonging this crisis for those who are most vulnerable. 

G7 Health Ministers and Finance Ministers met ahead of the Summit.

  • Health and Finance Ministers expressed their commitment to fully fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), which still has a US$18.1 billion funding gap in 2021. Health Ministers are open to considering the extension of ACT-A into 2022 alongside efforts to strengthen supply chains and boost global vaccine manufacturing capacity. 
  • Finance Ministers also expressed strong support for the new Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation, including a reallocation to countries in need. 
  • On pandemic preparedness, while Health Ministers welcomed the upcoming special session of the World Health Assembly to consider the benefits of a pandemic treaty, Finance Ministers are looking forward to the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership’s Report to G7 Leaders and the G20 High-Level Independent Panel’s findings, and will consider their recommendations, particularly on financing mechanisms.


In parallel, progress was made regarding intellectual property rights and the impact it has on manufacturing and global supply of COVID-19 tools. The Biden Administration recently expressed its (partial) support for the World Trade Organization (WTO) COVID-19 TRIPS Waiver proposal, and the
EU presented its own proposal on patents which it is introducing to the WTO.

Ultimately, both meetings’ communiqués included positive language on the global response.  While these are all steps in the right direction, eighteen months into the pandemic, we need G7 leaders to move beyond their “think big, act small” strategy. They need to think big and act fast. As they gather for the annual G7 Leadership Summit, leaders have one job: to deliver a comprehensive, coordinated roadmap that accelerates global vaccine access and delivery of vaccinations and other COVID-19 tools for everyone. This strategy should include:

  • A comprehensive costing to show what it would take to achieve at least 70% vaccination coverage in all countries, including analysis to identify gaps in supply, procurement, and resources needed in-country for the delivery for vaccines, treatments, and tests. 
  • A burden-sharing model to set out fair share contributions and fully fund global vaccination to reach 70% coverage as soon as possible (including fully funding ACT-A.)
  • A plan to urgently address the huge vaccine supply gap in low- and middle-income countries by sharing two billion doses at the Leaders’ Summit, delivering one billion by the end of August and the second billion by the end of 2021 in coordination with COVAX.

 

As part of this global plan, G7 countries must urgently share vaccine doses with countries in need. G7 countries have bought three billion more doses than they need to fully vaccinate their entire population to 70%. The G7 U.K. Presidency should lead by example by committing to share 100 million doses as soon as possible before the Leaders’ Summit, and others should follow suit, in particular Team Europe and the United States.

G7 leaders can make a difference for the world this week and finally deliver the desperately needed plan to end this deadly pandemic. Let’s hope they deliver.

Why We Need a ‘Rome Roadmap’ to Vaccinate the World

By Friederike Röder, Global Citizen; Eloise Todd, Pandemic Action Network; and Emily Wigens, The ONE Campaign

We need a global roadmap to vaccinate the world — and we need it now. The scenes emerging from India are a harrowing reminder that unequal distribution of vaccines puts everyone at risk. More contagious forms of the virus are already evolving, increasing the risk of a new mutation that resists current vaccines.

Global access to vaccines is the fastest way to end the pandemic, but if rich countries monopolise supply and only vaccinate themselves, twice as many people could die — and the costs could stack up to an additional US$9 trillion. 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 now account for 30.7% of global deaths, compared to 9.3% a month ago.

That’s why the EU and its Member States must seize the opportunity of the Global Health Summit on 21 May and the 24-25 May European Council meeting by taking the following actions: 

  • Develop a global roadmap to vaccinate the world to reach global immunity as soon as possible, raising the level of ambition and offering the political leadership needed to deliver vaccines across the world. The EU and Member States should coordinate globally so that all efforts to deliver COVID-19 vaccines are mapped, mutually reinforcing, and avoid duplication. This strategy should include a comprehensive costing to show what it would take to vaccinate 70% of the world, and should also include analysis to identify gaps in supply, procurement, and resources needed in-country for the delivery for vaccines, treatments, and tests.
  • Immediately contribute to the call for high-income countries to share 1 billion doses by September, and 2 billion by the end of the year, sharing surplus doses via, or in coordination with, COVAX. This year, EU Member States will have at least 690 million doses more than they need to vaccinate 100% of their populations, and in many EU Member States the supply of COVID-19 vaccines will soon outstrip demand. Several Member States have stepped up with commitments to share doses, other leaders should urgently follow in their footsteps. Unearmarked doses should be donated immediately, in parallel with national vaccination rollouts, or when countries have vaccinated 20% of their populations at the latest. Moving forward, the EU should avoid purchasing more doses than necessary to fully cover its own population and should make its own contracts conditional upon pharmaceuticals making deals with COVAX at not-for-profit pricing.
  • Contribute their fair share towards fully funding the current and future ACT-Accelerator funding gaps, estimated to be at least $66 billion, in 2021 and ensuring a fair distribution between the Therapeutics, Diagnostics and Vaccines Pillars, as well as the Health System Connector. The European Commission should contribute at least an additional €1.2 billion and all EU Member States should meet their fair share in financing for ACT-A. This is the best investment they can currently make. This should pave the way for the whole of the G7 to close the current funding gap of $18.5 billion by at least 60% as soon as possible.
  • Support all means necessary to increase global supply of COVID-19 tools. It is imperative that governments and industry use every tool in their toolbox to dismantle the barriers that delay truly global access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and medicine. The world needs a total of 11 billion vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity, but according to estimates, we’re at best at a capacity level of 8.5 billion. The EU should lead the way on building a roadmap on producing those additional vaccine doses and future boosters, using all means necessary, both in lifting IP barriers and in ensuring sufficient manufacturing capacity. This could range from the temporary waiver of COVID-19 intellectual property rights, alongside additional licensing, technology transfers, and the elimination of trade-related barriers such as export bans. In parallel, the EU should launch an initiative to increase manufacturing capacity in LICs and LMICs, helping to bring private investors on board, and support the WHO’s mRNA Tech-Transfer Hub.

European leadership should take the fight against COVID-19 to the next level by taking urgent action now, with the aim to protect every person in the world, save the maximum amount of lives, and stop the spread of dangerous variants that will harm all of us. The world is playing catch-up on an equitable response. Now is the time for a reset with a strategic plan to reach 70% globally, dose sharing immediately, and investment in purchasing vaccines and other life saving tools — as well as action to kickstart medium-term supplies through licensing, tech transfer, and investment in production capacity. All these elements are needed.

It’s time for the EU’s leaders to deliver, at the Global Health Summit and at their Summit next week.

Friederike Roder is the vice president for global advocacy at Global Citizen, Eloise Todd is the co-founder of Pandemic Action Network, and Emily Wigens is the EU director at The ONE Campaign.

The First 100 Days of the Biden Presidency: A Pandemic Progress Report

Carolyn Reynolds, Co-founder & Courtney Carson, Senior Program Officer, Pandemic Action Network

The COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed almost every aspect of President Biden’s first 100 days in office. During the transition, the Pandemic Action Network and leading global health experts called on then-President-elect Biden to take bold steps and work with Congress and with world leaders to end the pandemic as soon as possible and ensure we are better prepared for the next one.

So how has the Biden-Harris Administration done so far, and what remains to be done?

Prioritizing the threat: Right out of the gate, President Biden made a series of welcome announcements to prioritize pandemic response both at home and abroad.  

 

These early announcements included reversing the politically-motivated decision last year to initiate U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO). Instead the Biden-Harris Administration has leaned in to bolster the WHO and the international response to this crisis. Notably, Vice President Kamala Harris’s first conversation as VP with a global leader was with WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros.

COVID-19 response: President Biden has shown leadership by wearing a mask consistently in public, and by issuing a universal mask mandate for all federal buildings, public transportation, and transportation hubs. This cemented the science-backed recommendation that wearing a mask is a key preventative measure. In addition, his first major legislative package, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), provided urgently needed relief to families, states, and communities grappling with the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19, and  accelerated the frontline pandemic response both at home and abroad. Despite some early challenges, the domestic vaccine rollout has accelerated in Biden’s first 100 days, with 235 million vaccines administered and 98 million people fully vaccinated as of today, according to the CDC. Despite these efforts, vaccination rates are now slowing — a worrying trend as vaccines skepticism grows across the U.S.

On the global response front, the Biden Administration has also taken some important steps, namely to commit a total of $7.5 billion to date to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) partnership and its COVAX financing facility to ramp up access to vaccines and other lifesaving tools around the world. As a result, the U.S. is now the leading donor to this global solidarity effort. Highlighting its commitment to the global response, the U.S. hosted international leaders to kick off a virtual resource mobilization campaign for COVAX, urging other wealthy nations to contribute. It also announced agreements to loan vaccine doses to Canada and Mexico, and to provide relief and vaccine donations to India, including mobilizing the U.S. military to provide emergency aid in the face of the country’s growing COVID-19 crisis.  

Pandemic preparedness: U.S. leadership is also needed to strengthen systems for pandemic preparedness, at home and abroad. Pandemic Action Network continues to urge President Biden and other world leaders to lay the groundwork for a pandemic-proof America and world now — before the pandemic fades from view and political and public attention shifts to other priorities, as it has too many times before.  

Here again, the Biden-Harris Administration has laid down some important early markers. First at home: The American Jobs Plan includes a serious commitment of $30 billion to bolster prevent future pandemics and protect against a range of biological threats. This represents renewed and increased commitment to bolstering research and development, surveillance, and strategic stockpiles to ensure America is ready to respond to future disease threats. 

On the global front, President Biden is leading a push for new sustainable financing to help all countries be prepared to counter pandemic threats. Pandemic Action Network is pleased that in NSM1 and several follow-on announcements, the Biden-Harris Administration has expressed its intent to heed our call to establish an enduring international catalytic financing mechanism for preparedness, with the aim to ensure that every country has the core capacity it needs to detect, prevent, and respond to outbreaks at their source before they become deadly and costly pandemics like COVID-19. Earlier this week, Vice President Harris urged representatives at the United Nations to work together now to prepare for the next pandemic. The Administration’s initial budget proposal for FY22 released April 9 backs up these pledges with a $1 billion increase in funding for global health security. 

Looking Ahead: This progress in President Biden’s first 100 days is a welcome start. But much more must be done, and urgently — as the pandemic continues to rage around the world and as the next pandemic threat is looming. Pandemic Action Network has issued an Agenda for Action for world leaders. U.S. support will be critical to drive progress in all of these areas, but here are three where the Biden-Harris Administration can and should lead the way now:

  • Expanded global vaccine access is vital to ending this pandemic. According to the Launch and Scale Faster initiative at Duke University, the U.S. has secured at least 500 million more doses than it needs to vaccinate every American, while some of the poorest nations have yet to receive a single dose. Given U.S. success in vaccination — and the threat to the U.S. of the continued spread of COVID-19 and its variants in other parts of the globe — the Biden-Harris Administration should lead the way to immediately share more excess doses with the world through COVAX. In his first address to Congress, President Biden committed to sharing vaccines with the world once the U.S. has amassed additional supply and when all Americans have access to COVID-19 vaccine. We are there, and we will not end this pandemic if we continue to allow other countries to go unserved. And President Biden should also work with world leaders to agree on a Global COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap to reach at least 70% global vaccine coverage as soon as possible. 
  • Mobilize additional domestic and international funding for preparedness on par with the threat. To this end, we urge the U.S. to build on its commitment to establish a global financing mechanism for pandemic preparedness with a pledge of at least $2 billion to start, and call on other G7 and G20 member countries to join the U.S. and invest in this effort toward an initial capitalization of $20 billion this year. Separately, the U.S. should also commit a multi-year pledge toward fully funding the five-year plan of action for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). CEPI is playing a critical role in accelerating global access to vaccines in this crisis, and has set a bold goal to compress the future timeline to develop new vaccines for emerging pandemic threats so that they can be quickly developed, tested, and rolled out in an emergency. This is the kind of ambition the world needs, and the U.S. must do its fair share to advance this global public good.  
  • Fix the global pandemic defense system. While new and dedicated funding for preparedness is absolutely critical, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. The COVID-19 crisis has shown that we must strengthen our international instruments of leadership and accountability to ensure both better preparedness and more rapid response to potential pandemics. This includes strengthening our existing global mechanisms such as the WHO and International Health Regulations, but also seriously entertaining bold and new modalities and frameworks for pandemic governance, such as the proposal for a new pandemic treaty, which now has the backing of dozens of other world leaders. President Biden convened world leaders last week on climate change to push for bold solutions; pandemic threats deserve the same level of political priority.

 

The next few months will see a series of global summits and convenings, offering world leaders multiple opportunities to seize the moment and take action. Pandemic Action Network urges President Biden and his Administration to seize these opportunities, doubling down on the progress of the first 100 days and going bigger and bolder on ending this pandemic and preventing the next. While progress since January 20 has been meaningful, the costs of the U.S. and the world failing to act sooner continue to mount — and the pandemic is far from over. Now is the time for a step change in the ambition of the U.S. and global leaders to do what it will take to end this pandemic for everyone, and ensure that COVID-19 leaves a long-term legacy of a pandemic-proof world. 

“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.

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.

“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?

 

Pandemic Action Agenda: What World Leaders Should Do to Help Prevent the Next Pandemic

With global COVID-19 cases set to surpass 50 million and spiking across the United States and Europe, world leaders are gathering in a series of international summits to discuss what they will do to stop the pandemic. The current crisis demands urgent and united action as a global community, as no country will be safe from the virus until every country is safe.

But this pandemic didn’t have to happen, and the next one won’t wait. As they fight the current battle, leaders must also take steps NOW to bolster our global and national defenses against emerging pandemic threats before they materialize.

Synthesizing lessons of what has gone wrong in COVID-19 and in previous outbreaks and epidemics, the Pandemic Action Network’s Global Health Security Architecture Working Group has identified six priorities for international action to ensure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic. These are captured in our brief Pandemic Action Agenda paper released last month.

 

 

Pandemic Action Agenda Series

Now we’re pleased to release a series of Pandemic Action Agenda papers which expand on each of the six priority areas for action:

Pandemic Action Agenda Summary: Calling on world leaders to strengthen the global health security architecture and governance and make the world better prepared for pandemics. 

Global Health R&D: Bolstering the global research and development architecture for health security.

Outbreak Detection: Enhancing the availability and use of reliable data and early warning systems to drive more effective preparedness and response to outbreaks.

Pandemic Financing: Mobilizing sufficient funding for national pandemic preparedness and global response efforts. 

Country Capacity: Enhancing countries’ capacity to prevent and respond to outbreaks through technical assistance and improving health security infrastructure.

Pandemic Supplies: Solving supply chain bottlenecks and ramping up regional and local production and delivery to ensure health workers everywhere have access to sufficient quality personal protective equipment (PPE) and other frontline health supplies.

Metrics and Evaluation: Increasing accountability through more effective mechanisms to assess—and fill gaps in—country preparedness levels. COMING SOON

 

What You Can Do

Advocate for action. Help us deliver the Pandemic Action Agenda directly to key decision-makers in your country and international organizations, and press them to take action on these issues. Contact Naomi Komuro at [email protected] and let us know who you can reach (or we can give you ideas!). 

Spread the word. Share the #PandemicActionAgenda on your social media channels and through other communications within your networks to help build us momentum to prioritize global preparedness. Find the social toolkit here

Hold leaders to account. Sustained advocacy and communications are essential to avoid repeating the cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to deadly outbreaks. Follow up with decision-makers through emails, meetings or events, and ask them share what they are doing to respond to the Pandemic Action Agenda—and let us know what you learn to inform our ongoing advocacy efforts. 

Every effort we make in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a longer-term legacy that better prepares humanity to more effectively deal with outbreaks and pandemics and—when possible—to prevent them at the source. 

Want to learn more? Please contact Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network at [email protected]

 

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.