Director, Vaccines Policy
The challenge is not getting hold of COVID-19 vaccines, it is getting vaccines into arms. The healthcare community is continuing to showcase the value of vaccines throughout one’s life course.
Over the last two years, the global healthcare community’s efforts in mounting a response to COVID-19 have materialised. This pandemic has brought home the power of vaccines to save lives and protect the vulnerable. Breakthrough new vaccines and a historic scale up of production and deployment have resulted in the largest mass vaccination campaign the world has ever seen.
We now have to redouble efforts to accelerate countries’ mobilisation and remove barriers to efficient distribution and administration of COVID-19 doses, as the risk perception with Omicron has changed.
Global pandemic response
The biopharmaceutical industry took up the challenge to develop, manufacture and deliver safe and effective tools to combat COVID-19, including vaccines. The strength of a robust innovation ecosystem – decades of partnerships, scientific exploration and investment – enabled the development of technologies such as mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines, a process that would have taken years if started from scratch.
All companies were asked to ramp up manufacturing capacity to meet the global need, with 14 billion doses produced today. It is now publicly recognised that there is more supply than demand globally. The demand is going down, so much so that the Indian company, Serum Institute, halted its production last December, as Aspen in South Africa might have to do this month.
Getting vaccines into arms
But despite collective efforts, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines remain a challenge. Countries face implementation bottlenecks, including funding gaps, weak health systems and infrastructure, competing health priorities and COVID-19 fatigue. Vaccine hesitancy has also had a serious impact and this may affect other vaccination programmes.
Healthcare systems and infrastructure need to be stronger, financing for in-country delivery must be prioritised and the biopharmaceutical industry will continue to work with all stakeholders on three overarching priorities so that COVID-19 vaccines reach those who need them the most.
Vaccines for life
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that when we work together, we can achieve more than we ever thought possible. But there is more to be done. Vaccines can help protect you and your family from over 30 different infectious diseases – not just in childhood, but at every age and stage of life. Together, we can give vaccines the greatest chance to make an even greater impact on our health, our communities and our world.