Establishing a Successful Global Immunization Strategy Against COVID-19
Vaccination potential will not be achieved without a successful rollout plan.
Without the ability to get people vaccinated in a timely manner, having an abundance of new vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will not mean much. It is critical for the global economy that there are affordable, available vaccines and that governments have the administrative and political capacity to deliver them locally to their population.
A recent health policy piece published in The Lancet and written by leading experts in vaccines, infectious disease and public health, discusses what needs to be done in order to accomplish an effective global immunization strategy.
In the paper, the experts elaborate on 4 key areas and review 26 leading vaccines on their ability to contribute to achieving a global vaccine immunity. The 4 key areas discussed are increased production, affordable pricing, global availability and a successful rollout.
“Several manufacturers have successfully developed COVID-19 vaccines in under 12 months, an extraordinary achievement. But the stark reality is that the world now needs more doses of COVID-19 vaccines than any other vaccine in history in order to immunize enough people to achieve global vaccine immunity,” Oliver Wouters, a lead author on the study said. “Unless vaccines are distributed more equitably, it could be years before the coronavirus is brought under control at a global level. The questions now are when these vaccines will become available, and at what price.”
With most countries around the world lacking the capacity to rapidly produce vaccines, pressure on global supply chains will increase in order to scale up production and meet the global demand. The authors state that manufacturers should share data, knowledge and technology with a larger group of other manufacturers to produce more COVID-19 vaccines. While some initiatives like this have been implemented, responses have been limited.
One such initiative, named COVAX, was set up to avoid richer nations from buying large quantities of the vaccines and preventing timely, universal access, but vaccine nationalism could still leave limited supplies.
“Securing large quantities of vaccines in this way amounts to countries placing widespread vaccination of their own populations ahead of the vaccination of health-care workers and high-risk populations in poorer countries”, Mark Jit, a co-author on the paper said. “Based on known deals, governments in high-income countries representing 16% of the global population have secured at least 70% of doses available in 2021 from five leading vaccine candidates.”
There is also a need for options when it comes to the vaccines, which can help governments to decide which of them can best suit their individual needs. Vaccine hesitancy is another issue that can hamper rollout, as some countries have a lower confidence in the therapies and refuse to get them.
“To overcome challenges in vaccine hesitancy and ensure that vaccines are administered to as many people as possible, governments need to do much better at building public trust in the safety of vaccines and to combat misinformation and rumors around COVID-19”, Heidi Larson, a co-author on the paper said. “This will require increasing vaccination knowledge and awareness, promoting community engagement, and making vaccines available in convenient and accessible locations. Vaccine manufacturers should aim for maximum transparency and scrutiny of their clinical trial data, and post-marketing safety surveillance with compensation schemes for severe adverse events in resource poor countries with poor consumer protection. These factors are vital to build confidence during vaccine roll-out."