United States Agency for International Development
Press Release, December 7, 2021
The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic is at a critical inflection point, with countries increasingly expanding their focus beyond securing vaccines to converting these vaccines into shots in arms. Yesterday, I convened a COVID-19 Ministerial to mobilize ambitious global action on addressing these and other challenges countries are facing in the fight against COVID-19, and to announce a new US effort, the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access (Global VAX), which will help countries raise vaccination rates. The Ministerial included representatives from 23 countries and 3 regional entities, as well as leading public health experts and officials from WHO, UNICEF, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Bank.
Ministers and leaders agreed on the need to further step up the global response to COVID-19, reaffirming the goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the world’s population by the middle of next year while emphasizing that we must act urgently in order to reach this objective—and our shared goal of ending the pandemic in 2022. We discussed our collective progress against global targets on vaccinations, as well as the importance of continuing to advance regional vaccine manufacturing and improve coordination among countries, donors, and global organizations. Vaccine supply for low- and middle-income countries and economies is improving, although sustained focus on meeting global vaccine supply commitments remains crucial. As this supply continues to expand, delivery and vaccine uptake is fast becoming the most important variable in reaching 70 percent global coverage.
In light of the significant resource gaps that exist for vaccine delivery and uptake, and recognizing that emerging variants underscore the need for the world to be vaccinated as quickly as possible, I announced Global VAX—a new U.S. initiative to accelerate efforts to get COVID-19 shots into arms. Global VAX will enhance international coordination to identify and rapidly overcome barriers to saving lives now, with a priority on scaling up support to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Building on the more than $1.3 billion the U.S. has already committed for vaccine readiness, Global VAX will direct an additional $315 million towards bolstering cold chain supply and logistics, service delivery, vaccine confidence and demand, human resources, data and analytics, local planning, and vaccine safety and effectiveness. This initiative will also provide additional assistance to boost regional vaccine manufacturing, and strengthen USAID’s Rapid Response Surge Support for communities experiencing COVID-19 surges.
Recognizing our shared responsibility to lead in the global COVID-19 response, and that the world’s ability to control the pandemic will hinge in large part on collective efforts to address challenges like vaccine access and uptake, participants discussed their response priorities for 2022 and identified ways to improve coordination around concrete outcomes. To support these efforts, WHO, UNICEF, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, announced a new unified and elevated COVAX coordination and leadership structure focused on enhancing country vaccination support. WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also called for a pledging conference to take place early in 2022 to ensure concrete donor commitments to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), which coordinates and mobilizes critical resources like oxygen for countries responding to the pandemic.
If the story of 2020 was arguably the sprint to discover a vaccine, and the story of 2021 was the sprint to produce them, the story of this coming year must be the sprint to turn those vaccines into vaccinations. The U.S. is determined to translate its commitments at this Ministerial into action, and will partner with other donor nations, international financial institutions, multilateral organizations, and the private sector as we work, together, to help countries boost their vaccination rates and finally bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.