On Thursday, November 18th, the Center for International Development (CID) hosted a virtual panel discussion on improving vaccine equity and delivery. This was the second monthly panel event on CID’s moving Beyond COVID initiative, with each month representing different key dimensions of COVID response and recovery.
Featured on this panel were Matt Andrews, Edward S. Mason Senior Lecturer in International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Thabani Maphosa, Gavi’s Managing Director Country Programmes; and Rebecca Weintraub, MD, Assistant Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and Associate Physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital. The discussion was moderated by CID Director Asim Khwaja.
Professor Weintraub opened the discussion with an overview of potential policy options to address the continued supply and demand mismatch for vaccines. Mr. Maphosa emphasized the role of vaccine diplomacy given the geopolitical challenges associated with COVID vaccine production and distribution as well as the importance of context in developing vaccination strategies for each individual nation. Professor Andrews spoke about the “last mile delivery” issue many countries are facing once they procure vaccines. The port to patient journey has been overlooked in global response plans thus far, and the focus now needs to be on building resilient health systems rather than simply providing health services.
In reference to equity in vaccination campaigns, the panel pointed to several challenges including a focus on ensuring no vaccines go to waste, vaccine nationalism and hoarding patterns, classist vaccination patterns, and marginalized groups falling into governmental blind spots (i.e. vaccinating migrant groups, delivering vaccines to remote areas, etc.). “[COVID] is a unique opportunity and is a unique moment in our history” as Professor Khwaja notes, but it’s important to recognize the immense success we have had during such a tragedy as well: “We can deal with this, we will be better because of this, we will come out stronger.”
Learn more about CID's Beyond COVID initiative on the Beyond COVID homepage, and gain further insights from experts by listening to CID’s Beyond COVID podcast and catching up on the Beyond COVID panel discussions.
CID Student Ambassador Author:
Kerianne DiBattista, Master in Public Policy candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School