- With $ 96 million, equivalent to 0.006% of the US health budget and 0.04% of the UK, the IRC was able to vaccinate nearly 16 million people affected by humanitarian crises or conflicts.
- Half of the countries on the IRC’s 2022 Emergency Watchlist — the countries most at risk of experiencing a worsening crisis in 2022 — have vaccinated less than 10% of their populations.
- The least far-reaching countries include the Democratic Republic of the Congo (0.8%), Haiti (1%), Yemen (2%) and South Sudan (4%).
- By comparison, about half of the populations in the UK (55.8%), Sweden (56.7%), Belgium (60.2%) and Germany (55.9%) have received booster shots.
- Persistent vaccine inequality is not only unfair but also dangerous. The Omicron variant originated from a low vaccination environment and claimed more than half a million lives worldwide. Future variants may be even more contagious and / or more deadly.
- The IRC calls for an urgent effort from across society to meet the WHO target of 70% vaccine coverage by mid-2022. This includes immediate funding for delivery to both governments and NGOs to maximize reach.
New York, NY, March 11, 2022 – Two years after the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic and more than a year ago that the world began vaccinating against the disease, people living in the world’s worst crisis zones have been left behind, warns the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
While more than 60% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, this number drops to only 10% for low-income countries. Countries on the IRC’s 2022 Emergency Watchlist are being put even further behind, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (0.8%), Haiti (1%), Yemen (2%) and South Sudan (4%) see some of the lowest vaccination rates in the world – – while several rich countries have given booster shots to more than half of their population. With $ 96 million, equivalent to only 0.006% of the US health budget and 0.04% of the UK health budget, the IRC was able to supply COVID-19 vaccines to almost 16 million people living in the areas we work in – – including in the world’s worst crisis zones. Yet NGOs like the IRC are currently left on the sidelines and not receiving the funding needed to be significantly engaged in delivery efforts.
David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said:
“The global response to COVID-19 is another example of system failure. We continue to lack vaccine coverage targets for our danger with the Omicron variant as a direct result of our delay. We have failed to distribute adequate vaccine doses to lower-income countries and we have failed to invest in the health systems needed to fire guns as soon as they become available.
The inadequacy of our global response, especially in terms of collective management and resource allocation, has never been clearer or more dangerous. As a member of the independent panel on pandemic preparedness and response, I argued for the need to raise pandemic threats to the highest levels of government. This is the context of our proposal for a Global Health Threats Council (GHTC) to ensure coordination, accountability and appropriate resources for pandemic preparedness and response. This management-level council would not only maintain top-order political momentum in the preparation for and fight against pandemics, it would also oversee a new flow of funding — a multilateral financial intermediary fund (FIF) — to fill significant gaps in resources. “
To effectively deliver and administer COVID-19 vaccines to populations affected by conflict and humanitarian crises, the IRC calls on:
1. Mobilization of more resources for delivery costs. The $ 1.5 billion request from the Gavi COVAX Advanced Market Commitment — the financial mechanism aimed at ensuring the world’s lowest-income countries have access to COVID-19 vaccines — does not take into account full delivery costs in humanitarian contexts, And more funding is an urgent need to shift doses from ports into the arms of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Using the IASC standard of $ 3.00 per dose to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine in humanitarian settings, the IRC has estimated that $ 96 million is needed to deliver vaccines to nearly 16 million people they serve in 30 countries. With approximately 60-80 million people living in non-government-controlled areas, this sum is only a fraction of the total delivery cost required to vaccinate 70% of each country’s population by 2022.
2. Increase funding for frontline organizations. Community organizations and local and international NGOs have a reach to provide vaccine services where governments can not. These front-line groups must have faster and easier access to global funding and vaccines to effectively support delivery in the most difficult-to-access contexts.
The IRC also calls for the establishment of a Global Health Threats Council at the level of government leaders. The Threat Council will be able to mobilize an entire government approach, maintain political engagement, drive adequate funding and prepare and coordinate a global response to defend itself against future outbreaks and pandemics.
IRC has estimated, using the IASC standard of $ 3.00 per dose to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine in humanitarian contexts that $ 96 million is needed to deliver and administer vaccines to nearly 16 million people in the IRC’s target group — people over the age of 15 and / or are at high risk in the IRC’s health catchment area — in 30 countries.