Gavi is On Track to Vaccinate 300 Million More Children by 2025
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi (left) and Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, Managing Director for Resource Mobilisation, Private Sector Partnerships and Innovative Finance (right).

International vaccine alliance Gavi is on track to immunize 300 million more children by 2025 despite setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it announced on Tuesday.

“Despite the huge strain placed on countries’ health systems by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re on or ahead of schedule on eight of the 11 key commitments that we made for the period 2021 to 2025. These include efforts to immunize a further 300 million children, prevent between seven to eight million future deaths, and unlock $80 to $100 million in economic benefits,” said Gavi CEO Dr Seth Berkley 

The alliance released its mid-term review report that tracks the progress of its goals for the 2021-2025 period. Every year Gavi provides vaccines to protect nearly half of all children on the planet. 

The report coincides with a meeting of world leaders in Spain’s capital of Madrid for the Global Vaccine Impact Conference, where they are discussing the lessons from the COVID-19 vaccine access platform, COVAX, which was co-led by Gavi.

Improving Africa’s manufacturing capacity is a long-term goal

In the coming years, countries in Africa have pledged to improve vaccine manufacturing capacity as COVID-19 exposed their vulnerability. 

While Gavi expressed confidence in the continent’s ability to scale up, it tempered expectations by adding that this was likely to be a long-term process.

“This is a long road. It is important to acknowledge that it takes time,” said Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, Gavi’s Managing Director for Resource Mobilisation, Private Sector Partnerships and Innovative Finance. “A lot of pieces have come into play,” 

Gavi also said it is working to ensure there is enough advance procurement so that manufacturers can produce vaccines at scale while keeping the cost low.

Gavi played a key role in improving vaccine access during COVID-19 in 92 countries.

Neonatal deaths, weak malaria vaccines are challenges

Gavi flagged neonates’ deaths, the low efficacy of malaria vaccines and climate change as key challenges.

While there has been considerable progress in reducing childhood deaths, deaths of neonates (babies in the first 28 days of life) remain high.

“The RTS,S vaccine which is the first malaria vaccine, had an efficacy rate of 39%. Now that may sound low, but given how prevalent malaria is, for every 200 children vaccinated, you save one life. So, in terms of impact, this vaccine is really important,” Berkley said.

Climate change is compounding challenges. As rainfall patterns change, droughts become more frequent and intense, and food insecurity is expected to rise.

“In my country, where climate change and displacement are making it harder, not easier, to deliver health services – vaccines are an essential way to manage outbreaks and save lives,” said Dr Abdelmadjid Abderahim, Minister of Public Health and Prevention in Chad.

 Countries returning to pre-pandemic vaccination

While Gavi has presented an optimistic picture, a number of countries reported their post-pandemic struggles less optimistically at the recently concluded World Health Assembly weren’t so optimistic, including the re-emergence of polio cases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, after the pandemic disrupted routine vaccinations.

Gavi said nearly 57 low- and middle-income countries are on track to return to pre-pandemic level of routine immunization. 

“According to the data we’re seeing from countries, we believe there are encouraging signs that resilient health systems in the now 57 Gavi implementing countries are having some success in recovering following the pandemic,” Berkley said.

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