The world has made significant progress in reducing the threat posed by COVID-19. However, more than two years into the pandemic, global suffering continues and challenges remain. Yesterday, the United States Department of State convened a meeting of senior officials from members of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic Priority Action Plan for Enhanced Engagement (“GAP”) to coordinate the development and implementing concrete solutions to address critical COVID-19 gaps. global response and strengthening the global health security architecture to better prepare for the future.
The Senior Officials Meeting focused on work under the GAP’s six lines of action:
- Get shots in the arms: Officials discussed how to increase political will and accelerate progress throughout 2022 to rapidly and equitably deliver COVID-19 vaccines with a focus on reaching high priority populations. Since the launch of the GAP, partners have accelerated vaccine deliveries, improved cold chain capacity to store and ship more doses to more places, and led in-country campaigns to increase demand for vaccines and reach vulnerable groups. For example, Colombia has intensified its efforts to vaccinate Venezuelan refugees; India has improved its vaccine production; Japan has greatly expanded cold chain storage around the world; and Australia and New Zealand are focusing on vaccinating Pacific Island citizens. In addition to sharing more than 550 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine with more than 115 countries and economies, the United States, in partnership with COVAX, has begun donating Pfizer pediatric vaccines for ages 5-12. Throughout the meeting, officials discussed how best to build on this progress.
- Building supply chain resilience: Participants described private sector roundtables and other efforts to strengthen and coordinate health supply chains to date and assessed gaps and priorities for the future. They reviewed past, present and anticipated supply chain challenges and responses, including how to ensure sustainable production capacity to meet projected demand. GAP partners discussed their efforts to integrate predictive and resilience mechanisms into global supply chains to better cope with shortages and disruptions. For example, the European Union and the United States have consulted with businesses and regional supply chain actors around the world on how to adapt medical supply chains to improve health systems, with particular emphasis on Africa.
- Filling information gaps: Officials considered prioritizing national vaccination against COVID-19, including campaigns to reach priority populations, and the need to counter misinformation. Under Canada’s leadership, GAP partners coordinate across governments to counter misinformation and disinformation. This includes sharing best practices and initiatives such as the US Global VAX effort, which uses evidence-based interventions to increase demand for vaccines and confidence in vaccines.
- Support health workers: Participants discussed the need for collective efforts to support frontline health workers and developed plans to coordinate responses. Led by Spain, India and the Republic of Korea, GAP members are focused on ensuring health workers have access to vaccines and accurate vaccine information so they can stay in good health and continue to do their heroic work. Expanded access to mental health support was also discussed.
- Facilitate acute non-vaccination interventions: Participants reviewed research around new therapies and innovated on a wide range of test and treatment topics, including the need to implement test-to-treat strategies and create an enabling environment for equitable access and sustainable to new and innovative treatments.
- Strengthen the global health security architecture: Participants reviewed current efforts to improve future preparedness for health threats and considered best approaches for the future of ACT-A, COVAX and potential new elements of the global health architecture. health security, such as the concept of a Global Health Threats Council. Norway and South Africa explained how, since the launch of the GAP in February, they have led coordination around the work of the Access to COVID-19 Tools-Accelerator (ACT-A) to develop and equitably distribute tests, treatments and vaccines. Additionally, Germany, the UK and Japan have mobilized donors and Indonesia has led the establishment of the Financial Intermediate Fund (FIF) for pandemic preparedness as part of its G20 Presidency role.
Participants joining the United States at the COVID-19 Global Action Plan Senior Officials Meeting included Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Republic of Korea, Arabia Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, African Union and Africa CDC, European Union, United Arab Emirates, United States United Kingdom and the World Health Organization.