Geneva, 25 June 2021 – The Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has made several decisions to strengthen the organisation’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable everywhere – through routine immunisation, access to COVID-19 vaccines via the Gavi-hosted COVAX Facility and support for outbreak preparedness and response activities.
In addition to taking decisions relating to Gavi’s strategic direction, the Board united in condemning today’s gross inequity in vaccine delivery and committed itself to redoubling efforts to close the gap.
“Protecting the most vulnerable and enabling equitable access to lifesaving vaccines has always been at the heart of Gavi’s mission,” said José Manuel Barroso, Chair of the Gavi Board. “As Africa, with the lowest vaccine coverage in the world, and other regions face a renewed surge of the virus, we must use all our resourcefulness and innovation to help those most at risk: the global community must step up now to help COVAX to meet its ambitious equitable goals to support these countries.”
Earlier this week COVAX, the world’s first global procurement facility for pandemic vaccines, released an updated supply forecast demonstrating that, thanks to new agreements with manufacturers and dose-sharing by higher income economies, supplies were expected to reach two billion doses in January 2022 – only a short time later than previous forecasts, despite severe on-going supply delays. According to the forecast, COVAX’s goal of delivering 1.8 billion doses to lower-income economies eligible for donor-supported doses via the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC) would be reached in the first quarter of 2022.
In order to help prepare countries for this rapid scale up, the Gavi Board approved new funding of US$ 775 million to support the delivery of COVAX-funded doses in lower-income economies and humanitarian zones over the next two years. Gavi is co-lead of COVAX and hosts the Office of the COVAX Facility. The funding comes in addition to a previously Board-approved envelope of US$ 150 million in delivery support.
The Board also approved an evolution in the model of participation for self-financing participants (SFPs) of the COVAX Facility. Starting in 2022, the model will enable SFPs that rely on the Facility to access doses to continue procuring vaccines through COVAX under revised terms and conditions.
The move, based on lessons learned over the past year, will enable simplified operations and reduce financial risks to Gavi and COVAX.
“As the only global solution designed around equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, we need to continue to adapt the COVAX model as the pandemic evolves,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “The additional delivery support funding will help make sure that COVAX-funded doses are rapidly and efficiently rolled out in lower-income economies. But it will not help us end the acute phase of pandemic alone: to do this, we need governments, manufacturers and multilateral development banks to truly get behind COVAX and get us doses now so we can scale up protecting lives and do so quickly.”
Many decisions at the two-day board meeting concerned Gavi’s new 5.0 strategy.
Guiding the Alliance’s mission over the period 2021–2025, Gavi 5.0’s goal is to “leave no one behind with immunisation”, with a core focus on reaching “zero-dose” children and missed communities, with equity as the organising principle.
The following decisions are aimed at providing a critical framework for achieving this goal – building on Gavi’s existing strengths, as well as forming new partnerships and evolving key policies:
Encompassing both COVAX and Gavi 5.0 is Gavi’s risk appetite statement, which defines the criteria and trade-off considerations that guide the Alliance’s appetite for risk at the mission, strategy and organisational level. Against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Board approved an approach where the Alliance will seek to find the right balance between successfully delivering on the COVAX mission, where Gavi plays a central role, while minimising risks to Gavi’s core resources and programmes, acknowledging the reality that a higher risk appetite is needed in a pandemic setting.
The Board approved a one-year exceptional contract extension for Gavi CEO Dr Seth Berkley to guarantee stable and strong leadership of the Alliance in this critical time and ensure successful implementation of COVAX and Gavi 5.0. The current CEO’s 3rd term will now end in August 2023 and succession planning will be led by Gavi Board Chair.
The Board also welcomed new Board members including Awa Marie Coll Seck, Naguib Kheraj and Bounfeng Phoummalaysith.
In addition, the Board thanked Stephen Zinser and Muhammad Ali Pate as their terms as Board members concluded. Stephen Zinser has been a Gavi Board member since 2014 and has guided Gavi’s transition through two strategic periods. Muhammad Ali Pate began his term as a Board member in July 2019 lending his counsel and extensive experience to support the work of the Alliance. Mr Pate has also been an invaluable member of Market Sensitive Decisions Committee (MSDC) since October 2019.
Finally, the Gavi Board gave a warm send-off to Bill Roedy. Mr Roedy joined Gavi in 2010 as its first envoy. He was appointed to the Board in 2015 and has been Board Vice Chair in 2018–2019. Mr Roedy is recognised as a global health leader who has used his extensive network and experience to champion both Gavi and immunisation.