Geneva: The Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance approved an evolution of its current 5-year programme strategy that will see a renewed focus on routine immunisation and reaching zero-dose children, new vaccine introductions, a strengthened alliance role in outbreak and pandemic preparedness and response, alongside continued COVID-19 vaccinations in the 92 lower-income countries supported by the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment. Professor José Manuel Barroso, Chair of the Board, was confirmed for a second, three-year term.
The two-day meeting, which concluded today, also approved a relaunch of the alliance’s HPV vaccination programme. An ambitious plan to support sustainable regional vaccine manufacturing, particularly in Africa, was also adopted.
The board also gave the green light to leverage Gavi’s decades-long experience combatting the continuum of outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics, including with the recent learnings from COVAX, for pandemic preparedness and response (PPR) – in particular working towards equitable access to outbreak and pandemic vaccines, strengthening health systems, accelerating at-risk innovative financing and supporting diversification of global vaccine manufacturing.
A decision to continue ensuring COVID-19 vaccines are accessible to the 92 AMC countries was also approved by the Board. While the current priority remains to help countries raise coverage levels and boost high-risk groups, the board also endorsed plans to start preparing now for future evolutions of the virus. While COVAX continues to have in place plans for worst-case scenarios, the board agreed, in principle, to explore integrating future COVID-19 vaccinations into Gavi’s core programming – in a bid to improve synergies, be more responsive to countries’ needs and reduce the additional burden a specialised emergency response places on countries. This approval in principle will help Gavi engage with countries and partners on what shape a future programme would take, while also remaining flexible in case of further developments in 2023.
“Never before have Gavi-supported countries administered as many vaccines as the billions of doses they did in 2021. Yet routine immunisation has been impacted hard by the pandemic for two consecutive years and it is essential that we help countries to address this. The decisions taken at this week’s meeting will help the Vaccine Alliance enter a year of renewal; not only its historical mission to leave no one behind with immunisation but of the Alliance itself, introducing new innovations and ways of working learned from the pandemic,” said Professor José Manuel Barroso, Chair of the Board of Gavi.
Further details on the decisions made at the Board Meeting include:
- Gavi’s Board expressed overwhelming support for the relaunch of the HPV vaccine programme with over $600 million investment. The money will go towards funding vaccines, strengthening health systems and providing technical and learning support. With cervical cancer causing 342,000 deaths in 2020, 90 per cent of which occurred in low-and-middle-income countries, the HPV vaccine is one of the most impactful vaccines in Gavi’s portfolio. With the new funding in place, the alliance has set an ambitious goal to reach over 86 million girls by 2025, aiming to avert over 1.4 million future deaths from cervical cancer.
- A plan to support the development of a regionally diversified vaccine manufacturing ecosystem was also approved. Based on three pillars; support for strategic antigen selection by manufacturers/countries, market shaping and demand creation, the initiative represents a major step forward in addressing one of the critical challenges faced during the pandemic: how to ensure all regions of the world have the ability to manufacture vaccines. The initiative, supported by the African Union, Africa CDC, G7 and other stakeholders, also envisages the possibility of a fourth pillar, the design of a new financial instrument in the form of an Advance Market Commitment (AMC) for African vaccine manufacturing. This will be developed over the coming year, for potential approval and launch in 2023.
- Recognising that countries and communities face increased fragility and multiple challenges, the board sought to balance ensuring access with sustainability through Gavi transition and co-financing policies. The board extended timeframes for countries scheduled to transition out of Gavi support, put in place lower, time-limited, co-financing requirements for new malaria vaccines, extended the Gavi eligibility and co-financing exemptions for inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) in support of polio eradication efforts, and confirmed zero co-financing requirements for outbreak response and refugee populations currently not integrated into national plans.
“As we move out of the emergency phase of the pandemic, this will mean catching up on essential and sustaining COVID-19 vaccinations, helping them plan and prepare for the increasing occurrence of outbreaks due to climate change and growing populations – and looking further ahead, putting in place a global health response that will enable us to address future pandemics and global health security threats much more effectively,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO, Gavi.
Appointments and process updates
In addition, a number of appointments were made or reconfirmed:
- Prof José Manuel Barroso was reappointed for a new term as Board Chair.
- Mphu Ramatlapeng, Gabriella Fésüs, Saad Omer and Andrew (Drew) Otoo were appointed to join the board on January 1, 2023. They replace Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg, Bernhard Braune, Marta Nunes and Roger Connor respectively. John Arne Røttingen was reappointed to the board.
- Jérémie Forrat-Jaime, Rhoda Wanyenze and Joan Benson were appointed, and Francesca Manno and Joris Jurriëns were reappointed, as alternate members. Yibing Wu was appointed as Chair of the Investment Committee.