In response to the emergence of Omicron subvariants, improvements in vaccine evidence, and lessons learned from the global vaccination effort, WHO announced an update to the Global COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy on Friday.
The update predicted that COVID-19 vaccines saved 19.8 million lives in the first year they were distributed. Over 12 billion doses have been given internationally, in almost every country in the globe, through unprecedentedly massive and quick rollouts, reaching, on average, 60% of each country’s population.
However, in low-income countries, just 37% of healthcare professionals and 28% of elderly populations have received their primary set of vaccinations. 11 of the 27 WHO the Member States that have not yet begun a booster or additional dose program are low-income nations.
To safeguard health systems, societies, and economies, the plan intends to employ primary and booster dosages to lower fatalities and serious illnesses. On the way to achieving the 70 percent vaccination goal, nations should give top priority to achieving the underlying goals of immunizing all medical personnel (100 percent) and the most vulnerable populations (100 percent), including the elderly (over 60) and those who are immunocompromised or have underlying conditions.
According to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “Even where vaccination coverage is at 70%, if significant numbers of health workers, older people, and other at-risk groups remain unvaccinated, deaths will continue, health systems will remain under pressure, and the global recovery will be at risk.” The single best strategy to save lives, safeguard healthcare systems, and maintain open societies and economies is to vaccinate everyone who is most in danger.
The update states that the strategy places a strong emphasis on the necessity of monitoring vaccination progress in these categories and creating tailored outreach strategies to reach them. Vaccine demand can be sustained by using local data and community engagement; methods can be built to vaccinate adults, and more displaced individuals can be reached through humanitarian aid.
Along with substantially reducing transmission as its priority, the approach aims to expedite the development and guarantee equal access to new vaccinations to create long-lasting, broadly protective immunity.
According to the update, millions of lives have been saved thanks to the success of the current vaccines, which were created to prevent serious sickness and death. They haven’t, however, significantly lessened transmission. New and hazardous strains of the virus are developing as it spreads extensively, some of which compromise the effectiveness of immunizations. It is essential to keep making investments in R&D to create vaccinations that are more efficient and simple to use, like nasal spray solutions.
Other crucial steps to be taken include supporting effective vaccination delivery programs and evenly spreading manufacturing facilities among regions. To assist nations with rollouts, WHO will continue to work with COVAX and COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership (CoVDP) partners, for example, by bundling COVID-19 vaccination with other health activities.