The below messages were orginally developed by the World Health Organization as of 7 October 2021
WHO's COVID-19 Vaccine Key Messages/Toplines
The global failure to share vaccines equitably is fuelling the pandemic: In May 2021 DG Dr Tedros called for ambitious, but achievable, targets which are to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by September, at least 40% by the end of the year, and 70% globally by the middle of next year. In order to reverse health, social and economic damage wrought by COVID-19, these targets need to be met.
The world is not on track to achieve these targets:
- By the end of September, 59 countries were not able to meet the target of vaccinating even 10% of their population. This is a global failure to deliver equity.
- This collective failure makes it even more vital to take actions that will change the trajectory so as to reach the 40% target by the end of the year. Thus far no LICs and only 6/55 LMICs have passed 40% vaccination coverage.
- Meanwhile 66/80 HICs have passed the 40% coverage mark.
COVID-19 cannot be beaten one country at a time: Ensuring that all countries have the means to achieve these targets will minimize deaths, severe disease and overall disease burden, curtail the impact of COVID-19 on health system impact and enable full resumption of socio-economic activity, globally.
Manufacturers need to prioritise the needs of the world's biggest purchaser of COVID-19 vaccines: COVAX. The needs of all countries will be much better served by serving COVAX rather than manufacturers choosing to provide vaccines to certain countries.
In the immediate future donations play a critical role: Only 15% of promised vaccine donations have been delivered. Well-supplied countries must not delay their donations as lives depend on immediate action
Future virus variants threaten the effectiveness of life-saving vaccines: rapid development of efficacious COVID-19 vaccine are one of the few, true success stories from this pandemic. But unless vaccines are available to those at highest risk and public health measures continue to be implemented, future variants may threaten the progress we have made so far and prolong the pandemic.
We must spare no effort to increase vaccine supply for lower-income countries: this can be done by removing all the barriers to scaling up manufacturing including waiving IP, freeing up supply chains and technology transfer. As part of these efforts, in June, WHO and COVAX partners announced the first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, now being set up in South Africa.
Safe and effective vaccines alone cannot solve the pandemic: We also need robust surveillance supported by rapid diagnostics, early clinical care and life- saving therapeutics, provided by well-trained health workers who are able to work in safe conditions. Public health and social measures are also vital to end the pandemic and accelerate global recovery.
We must be extremely cautious of discontinuing public health and social measures. Lifting them too early or too quickly will see us losing the hard-fought gains that have been made while vaccines are still reaching the broad use that will be needed.
COVAX partners have a system in place to track and pre-empt any vaccines that may have an imminent expiry date. All partners are supporting COVAX countries to advise how to avoid expired doses through national deployment and vaccination planning, microplanning, cold chain and logistic support, and guidance on delivery mode.
Countries must collaborate to reach the global coverage rates. Inequitable access to vaccines slows the pace of global economic recovery and increases the risk of new, even more threatening variants developing. There are diminishing returns to vaccination, increasing the breadth and depth of reach where coverage is already high is inefficient when large swaths of the global population remain unvaccinated.
- Ensuring equitable access to vaccines requires extraordinary measures and global collaboration: Countries sharing doses, companies engaging with C-TAP, allowing free export of critical materials for vaccine manufacturing, sharing technology and manufacturing know-how will all be critical in ensuring equitable access to vaccines.
- The global failure to share vaccines equitably is fueling the pandemic: Our targets are to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by September, at least 40% by the end of the year, and 70% globally by the middle of next year. These are the critical milestones we must reach together to end the pandemic.
- COVID -19 cases are hitting the unvaccinated hardest: the majority of people who become seriously ill or being hospitalized are unvaccinated. Many unvaccinated people want vaccines, but cannot access them. As some countries implement policies to provide booster doses, supply to those who need their first dose is still constrained.
- Vaccines are effective against severe disease caused by the variants: but variants will continue to flourish if the global inequitable rollout of vaccines is not addressed.
- Virus variants threaten the effectiveness of life-saving vaccines: rapid development of efficacious COVID-19 vaccine are one of the few, true success stories from this pandemic. But unless vaccines are available to those at highest risk, future variants may threaten the progress we have made so far and prolong the pandemic.
Maintaining public health measures:
- Vaccine euphoria is undermining hard-won gains: for the foreseeable future we must continue to wear masks, physically distance and avoid crowds. Being vaccinated doesn't mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk: relaxing public health interventions should be done cautiously and with careful attention paid to those who remain unvaccinated.
- Ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines is one of WHO’s highest priorities: WHO works closely with national authorities to ensure that global norms and standards are developed and implemented to assess the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines.
- We must spare no effort to increase vaccine supply for lower-income countries: this can be done by removing all the barriers to scaling up manufacturing including waiving IP, freeing up supply chains and technology transfer. As part of these efforts, in July, WHO and COVAX partners announced the first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, to be set up in South Africa.
- Supply cannot match demand: Whilst the development of COVID vaccines has been astonishingly quick, supply cannot currently match demand and this is likely to persist for years rather than months.
- Dose sharing must happen immediately to fill an urgent supply gap: we need an additional 265 million doses by September, to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by the end of September, and additional doses to achieve at least 30% by the end of the year.
- Boosting manufacturing globally and sustainable financing are long term solutions to supply constraints: Supply issues have revealed a lack of manufacturing capacity across regions to respond to the need for vaccines. Many countries will need support to roll-out vaccines.
- Rapid scale-up of manufacturing capacity and cooperation is needed: the mechanisms to share knowledge and data to expedite the end of the pandemic exist. The investment in the development of vaccines needs to be matched by increased manufacturing - vaccine manufacturers can share know-how with C-TAP to scale up vaccine manufacturing and substantially increase the global supply of vaccines.
- We must sprint into September: If countries immediately share doses with COVAX and if manufacturers prioritise COVAX orders, we can vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by the end of September, and at least 30% by the end of the year.
- Safe and effective vaccines alone cannot solve the pandemic: Rapid diagnostics and life-saving therapeutics are also vital to end the pandemic and accelerate global recovery. These life-saving tools will only be effective if they are available for the most vulnerable equitably and simultaneously in all countries, and if strong health systems and services are in place to deliver them.