The Race to Vaccinate
Imagine a future where everyone has been inoculated against COVID-19.
This is the horizon we are all looking towards, but before this becomes a reality, there are many challenges we will need to address together.
A global economic recovery is in sight. For it to succeed, we need faster, more effective vaccination rollout across the world. We must ensure strong co-ordination and co-operation among countries.
We have dared to undertake unprecedented international investment and R&D, leading to the rollout of highly effective COVID-19 vaccines in under a year – already an extraordinary achievement.
Now, the production, delivery and administration of COVID-19 vaccines poses significant logistical challenges. The path from a vaccine’s development in a lab to its distribution around the world is complex and involves many actors. We will need to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines among and within countries. Failing to do so will imperil the global inoculation drive, resulting in further delays to the lifting of mobility restrictions and even deeper economic and social scarring.
Since the beginning of this race, disinformation and rumours about vaccines have represented major threats with the power to exacerbate citizens’ concerns and undermine immunisation campaigns.
Eradicating COVID-19 is vital to putting the world back on a sound economic footing – and this can only be done with robust international co-operation and partnerships. Let’s work together to build an inclusive and sustainable recovery.
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Vaccinating the world: An unprecedented logistical challenge
International scientific collaboration in action
The development of several effective COVID-19 vaccines in less than a year is a stunning achievement, demonstrating what is possible through research and international collaboration.
In 2020, five countries led in COVID-19 research efforts: the United Kingdom, the United States, China, India and Italy. Explore the flows to see with whom they collaborated the most.
The complex journey from R&D to vaccination
The next major challenge – to produce, distribute and administer billions of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide – is already under way. But the sheer complexity of the journey from R&D to a jab in the arm, involving intricate supply chains across multiple countries, is without precedent.
Vaccine success: Many countries, many products
Many countries provide the items needed to produce, distribute and administer vaccines, such as preservatives, vials, syringes, needles or even cold boxes and freezers. Trade is vital to deploying vaccines broadly. Keeping markets open by reducing tariffs, streamlining trade-related processes and ensuring better logistics co-ordination, is key for timely access to vaccines for all.
Vaccine co-operation must continue
A to-do list
If we are to reach a future where everyone is protected against COVID-19, then countries must continue to co-operate in the development, distribution and uptake of vaccines.
This is what we must do:
- Ensure transparent and timely communication on vaccines and immunization campaigns: Address public concerns and rumors about vaccine safety and effectiveness. Invest in education as it plays a key role in helping people understand what evidence to trust. Build partnerships across sectors of society to tackle mis-/disinformation on public health issues.
- Increase supply of vaccines: Massively scale up manufacturing capacities, for vaccines and for ancillary products. Enable wider production of already authorized vaccines by sharing IP and technological transfer.
- Anticipate potential future bottlenecks at the “delivery to patient” level: Provide more personnel and infrastructure for vaccine delivery and administration. Ensure logistic support for warehousing and distribution in order to avoid waste.
- Make distribution both equitable and strategic: Make vaccination programs that interrupt the spread of new variants the highest priority. Get vaccines to the most vulnerable people, especially in the hardest hit countries and regions. Increase overall vaccine supply to low- and middle-income countries, through more investment in COVAX and through sharing of excess doses as available.
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Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.