Ending the COVID-19 pandemic hinges on equal, global access to vaccines

Ending the COVID-19 pandemic requires a global vaccination effort.

COVID-19 is a virus that knows no boundaries, which makes the breakthroughs in developing highly effective vaccines extraordinary.

And in barely over a year after the start of the global pandemic, the exceptional has happened: Multiple COVID-19 vaccines are in use around the world, and a record number of people are being vaccinated at an unprecedented pace.

We have the dedication and collaboration of scientists, health workers and many others to thank, plus remarkable international cooperation through a unique multilateral initiative called COVAX.

COVAX is a vaccine access initiative established by some of the world’s leading health bodies including: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the World Health Organization; and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). COVAX is enabling the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world, including to those most in need and least able to pay.

In just over two months since the first vaccine doses were shipped, the COVAX facility has enabled the delivery of more than 49 million doses to 100 countries. More than 48 million doses received have been the AstraZeneca vaccine.

AstraZeneca is committed to supporting global, equitable access to vaccines.

AstraZeneca was the first global pharmaceutical company to join COVAX, and its vaccine will be the initiative’s single biggest contributor in the first half of this year, including through its licensing partnership with the Serum Institute of India. With approximately 80% of these doses, distributed through COVAX, reaching low- and middle-income countries, AstraZeneca is advancing on its commitment to support global, equitable access.

Unfortunately, the virus continues to move at a rapid pace. With new variants emerging, cases surging in global hotspots [1] and infection numbers increasing to approximately 62,827[2] a day in the U.S., much more needs to be done to reach worldwide herd immunity and bring the pandemic to a close.

While vaccination efforts in every part of the world are critical, this uneven distribution leaves huge swaths of our population unprotected and the global pandemic will continue for an even longer period.

COVAX hopes to distribute 2 billion vaccines to 190 countries by the end of the year.

In the face of a borderless pandemic, COVAX is an opportunity for the international community to act beyond boundaries, too. Which is why setting ambitious targets, such as the COVAX goal of distributing 2 billion doses to 190 countries by year’s end, is so important.

The global virus has upended our lives, decimated economies and health care systems and killed millions of people. Widespread, worldwide vaccination is the most effective way to save lives and return to normal.

If COVID-19 has reminded us of our collective vulnerability, it has also shown that when we work together, we are so much stronger. To stem this global health emergency, our one world must be protected. We can only achieve this through global collaboration.

Find out more about COVAX and why working toward global, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is critical.

[1] https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2021/04/covid-cases-surge-south-american-european-hot-spots

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html

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