Health and Healthcare Systems

How do we vaccinate the world? The head of COVAX talks to World Vs Virus

Joe Beard, a middle-school science teacher who is classed in the 1B category, which includes teachers and childcare providers, receives the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, U.S., January 21, 2021.  REUTERS/Cheney Orr - RC2PCL9VM2UZ

A middle-school teacher receives the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Arizona, USA. Image: REUTERS/Cheney Orr

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  • COVAX aims to ensure all countries have access to a safe, effective vaccine.
  • 190 economies are working together as part of this coalition to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available to people around the world.
  • Initial aim of COVAX is to have 2 billion doses available by the end of 2021.
  • Hear the podcast: World Vs Virus.

What would it take to vaccinate every single person on planet Earth? In this episode of World Vs Virus, we hear from the person leading the charge: Aurélia Nguyen, who is Managing Director of the COVAX facility.

A global vaccination campaign of epic proportions history is under way.

According to data from Johns Hopkins, over 147 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. This may sound like a huge number, but many leaders have voiced concern that wealthy countries are focusing on their own populations and not sharing vaccines with poorer countries.


“We are deeply concerned about the problem of vaccine nationalism,” South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa told the Davos Agenda virtual meeting in January.

“The rich countries of the world went out and acquired large doses of vaccines from developers and manufacturers of these vaccines […] Rich countries in the world are holding on to these vaccines and we are saying release the excess vaccines that you've ordered and hoarded.”

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But how it is possible, during a time of fraying global cooperation, to ensure countries work together to vaccinate the entire global population.

COVAX is a multi-stakeholder group of organizations that is working on ramping up the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and guarantees fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

This global effort is co-led by Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Aurélia Nguyen, Managing Director at the office of the COVAX facility, told World Vs Virus that defeating the COVID-19 pandemic is only possible if countries co-operate.

“As long as the virus is circulating, there will be reinfection,” Nguyen said.

“We've had 190 economies sign on to COVAX and really recognize the fact that a multilateral response where vaccines can be distributed across all countries who need them, focusing on the highest priority populations and the most vulnerable groups is going to be the key to unlocking the end of the pandemic.”


  • Aurélia Nguyen, Managing Director at the office of the COVAX facility
  • Heidi J. Larson, Founder, the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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Health and Healthcare SystemsGlobal Cooperation
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