Gavi Board approves more than US$ 600 million in new funding to help accelerate efforts to reach ‘zero-dose’ and under-immunised children in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic
The Board also made several key decisions related to the COVAX Facility, including the approval of a package of support for India
The Board approved a Risk and Assurance report and discussed risk strategies for the COVAX Facility, ensuring key risks associated with this unprecedented global effort are fully assessed and mitigated ahead of time
Geneva, 17 December 2020 – The Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has approved an increase in funding of more than US$ 600 million over the next five years to help reach the millions of children still not receiving routine vaccines in Gavi-supported countries.
Over 50% more children were immunised in 68 of the world’s poorest countries in 2019 than in 2000, yet 10.6 million children in Gavi-supported countries still miss out on even a single dose of basic, routine vaccinations every year – a figure which is at risk of increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of all deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases in Gavi-supported countries occur among these ‘zero-dose’ children, although they account for only 13% of children.
Gavi will increase its support for health systems in lower-income countries by US$ 500 million in the 2021-25 period to a total of US$ 1.7 billion. In addition it will increase its support to improve the capacity of key Alliance partners, such as WHO and UNICEF, by US$ 128 million.
“As we rightly focus on the fight against COVID-19, we cannot afford to take our eyes off the ball when it comes to other deadly, preventable diseases,” said Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board. “We have made incredible progress in the past two decades boosting access to lifesaving vaccines in the world’s poorest countries, yet too many children are still missing out. The cost to reach each of these ‘zero-dose’ children can be three to four times higher than those who are already being immunised, which is why this new funding will be so vital.”
In addition to the increase in funding, Gavi is also mainstreaming equity and the drive to reach unvaccinated communities throughout its programmes. This will include working with new partners to reach the hardest to reach. For example more than half of all zero-dose children live in countries classed as fragile, which is why Gavi recently signed memoranda of understanding with the International Federation of the Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee, and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM): all organisations that know how to reach communities in need in these difficult contexts.
“This important Board meeting sets Gavi up for what will be one of the most important years in our history,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “2021 will not only see the COVAX Facility delivering safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines to countries across the world, it will also see the beginning of a new focus on reaching the unvaccinated. This puts Gavi at the very centre of global efforts to not only tackle the current pandemic, but also to prevent the rise of others in the future and achieve the vision set out in the Sustainable Development Goals of leaving no-one behind. Finally, following her final meeting as Gavi’s Board Chair, I’d like to thank Dr Ngozi for her incredible contribution to Gavi’s mission over the past five years and we look forward to continuing to draw on her wisdom, her passion and her leadership.”
Further outcomes of the Gavi Board meeting
As well as new funding to help reach unvaccinated children, several other decisions were made during the three-day virtual Board meeting, including many regarding efforts to ensure equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
- The Gavi Board approved a number of measures to strengthen the COVAX Facility – the global effort to ensure the equitable, rapid distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. These include:
- A tailored package of support for India. The Board agreed that India will receive approximately 20% of the total doses available to AMC-eligible countries through the COVAX Facility – estimated at between 190 and 250 million fully-subsidised doses – subject to vaccine prices and available funds. The country will also receive 20% of the total funding available to AMC-eligible countries for urgent technical assistance and cold chain equipment, or US$ 30 million. This tailored support takes into account the country’s disease burden and related mortality, subnational inequities and a growing economic crisis on one hand, and the country’s population size and its role as a global vaccine supplier on the other.
- An envelope of US $150 million to provide exceptional support, if required and on a case-by-case basis, to AMC-eligible countries to address critical COVID-19 vaccine delivery gaps for which no other funding is available, subject to this funding being mobilised from AMC donors. This is in addition to the US$ 150 million already approved to support improvements to cold chain infrastructure and technical assistance to support the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines.
- A Risk and Assurance report looking ahead to key risks Gavi is set to face in 2021. This includes key risks associated with the COVAX Facility. Gavi takes a strongly proactive approach to assessing and mitigating risk – an exercise which takes on all the more importance with a project of the scale and ambition of COVAX. Gavi will now work with partners on a set of strong risk mitigation measures to ensure the success of the Facility.
- In addition, the Board approved an approach to middle-income countries to prevent backsliding in vaccine coverage in countries that have transitioned out of Gavi support, as well as to drive the sustainable introduction of key missing vaccines in both former Gavi-eligible countries and never Gavi-eligible Lower- Middle countries and other IDA eligible middle income economies. Gavi will make US$ 281 million available for this purpose during the 2021 to 2025 period, with specific targeted engagement over the next 18 months.
- Finally, the Gavi Board gave a warm send-off to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at her final Board meeting. Since her appointment in 2016 Dr Ngozi has led Gavi through some of the most successful years in its history, tackling the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo, contributing to a polio-free Africa and securing a historic US$ 8.8 billion in funds at June’s Global Vaccine Summit. More recently she has played a central role in the design of the COVAX Facility. She will be replaced as Chair of the Gavi Board by José Manuel Barroso, whose term will begin in January 2021. Tributes to Dr Ngozi are listed below:
- “I am grateful for Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s leadership of Gavi, and the world should be too,” said Bill Gates, co-Chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “During her tenure, Gavi has helped bring lifesaving vaccines to more than 250 million children, protecting them from all sorts of terrible disease. Dr Okonjo-Iweala has chaired Gavi as its impact and influence have grown – and as it now prepares to help the world distribute COVID-19 vaccines and bring an end to this pandemic.”
- “Thank you, my sister Ngozi, for your tireless efforts to realise our shared vision of vaccines for all, and health for all, and for your leadership of the ACT Accelerator at this critical time,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO.
- “On behalf of everyone at UNICEF, we thank Dr. Ngozi for her outstanding leadership to the Gavi Board and tireless advocacy of equitable access to immunisation and primary health care,” said Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF. “Her dedication, experience and skills helped steer the Alliance through a particularly challenging period and develop the Gavi 5.0 agenda. Thankfully, we don’t say goodbye to Ngozi – instead, we look forward to continuing to benefit from her strong support of immunization and universal health care in her new capacity. Dr. Ngozi: as you move into the next chapter of your outstanding career, your friends at UNICEF wish you the best of luck and every success.”
- “Congratulations to Dr. Ngozi for her years of strong leadership as Gavi Board Chair,” said David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group. “The World Bank Group is deeply grateful for her close collaboration over the years – from her time as Managing Director of the World Bank, to Finance Minister of Nigeria, and most recently with Gavi. She has been instrumental in fostering the ongoing close collaboration between our institutions as we pursue our common goal of providing access to COVID-19 vaccines for those who are most vulnerable and working toward readiness assessments in 100 countries. I look forward to her continuing partnership and wish her all the best in her next endeavors.”
- “With Dr Ngozi’s incredible input we unlocked some of the most complex negotiations,” said Caroline Staffell-Mwangi, Gavi Senior Manager, as part of a thank you message from Gavi staff. “It was Dr Ngozi’s help that got us there. Personally, this was an inspiration and privilege to see. We’ll miss her.”