COVID-19 vaccines

The push for a COVID-19 vaccine

The world is in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic. As WHO and partners work together on the response -- tracking the pandemic, advising on critical interventions, distributing vital medical supplies to those in need--- they are racing to find a vaccine.

Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences --- the immune system--- to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.

Immunization currently prevents 2-3 million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles. There are now vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, and work is ongoing at unprecedented speed to also make COVID-19 a vaccine-preventable disease.

There are currently more than 100 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with a number of these in the human trial phase. WHO is working in collaboration with scientists, business, and global health organizations through the ACT Accelerator to speed up the pandemic response. When a safe and effective vaccine is found, COVAX (led by WHO, GAVI and CEPI) will facilitate the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries. People most at risk will be prioritized.

Preparations for delivery

The COVAX Facility is the global procurement mechanism of COVAX. The COVAX Facility will make investments across a broad portfolio of promising vaccine candidates (including those being supported by CEPI) to make sure at-risk investment in manufacturing happens now. This means the COVAX Facility, by pooling purchasing power from all countries that participate, will have rapid access to doses of safe and effective vaccines as soon as they receive regulatory approval. Guided by an allocation framework being developed by WHO, the COVAX Facility will then equitably distribute these doses to help protect the most at-risk groups in all participating countries.
Fair allocation mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility

WHO SAGE values framework for the allocation and prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination

The COVAX AMC is the financing instrument that will support the participation of 92 lower-middle and low-income economies in the COVAX Facility. The COVAX AMC is critical to ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of income level – and requires an urgent investment of US$ 2 billion, from sovereign donors, philanthropies and the private sector, by the end of 2020.
COVAX Advance Market Commitment mechanism explained

WHO is working with partners Gavi and UNICEF to ensure that the infrastructure is in place, and the technical support available, to make sure COVID-19 vaccines can be safely delivered to all those who need them.

COVID-19 Vaccine Country Readiness and Delivery

Read our "Vaccines Explained" series