Equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in Africa (ECOVA)
COVID-19 has affected countries and regions in many ways. The fault lines of income, wealth and power have become apparent as more affluent and more powerful countries that can afford vaccines prioritized their populations, leaving poorer countries behind. This is very likely to widen existing inequalities, not only in access to health services but also in social and economic opportunities.
As of October 2021, less than 5% of Africa’s population was fully vaccinated, due at least in part to very limited (or non-existent) local production of COVID-19 vaccines. Existing barriers to local production, such as current trade agreements and intellectual property rights, are compounded with additional challenges, including the scarcity of financial and logistical resources and limited research and development capacity. Nevertheless, Africa aims to increase its capacity for domestic vaccine production to 60% by 2040 and ensure equitable access and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.
This project will assess existing policy, legal and governance frameworks to improve African capacity for research and development and strengthen its contributions to global diplomacy for fair vaccine trade agreements. In selected countries, it will also strengthen the networks and country-level mechanisms to improve the distribution, delivery and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. It will assist countries to mitigate barriers to equitable and timely access to vaccines with tools to target disproportionately impacted groups, focusing on gender inequalities and other disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, including refugees and other displaced populations and people living with disabilities. It will also support improved information and surveillance systems to adequately monitor the implementation of vaccine administration in Africa by 2023.
A series of outputs will be generated. They will include a consolidated report summarizing the key issues and recommendations from country-specific reports, open-access research articles to be published in leading academic journals and policy briefs tailored specifically for policymakers and relevant stakeholders.