ATLANTA – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) invested $22.8 million for the first year of a five-year agreement with The Task Force for Global Health’s respiratory virus programs to help low- and middle-income countries develop adult immunization programs and deliver vaccines, with an initial focus on COVID-19.
A substantial portion of the funding will be directed to The Task Force’s COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Program (CoVIP), which supports COVID-19 immunization efforts in low- and middle-income countries. The remaining funds will expand the use of influenza vaccines in low- and middle-income countries through The Task Force’s Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI).
These two programs, which work in more than 35 countries, and a third Task Force initiative, the Global Funders Consortium for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development, share deep expertise in combating respiratory viruses. The three programs are now part of a new Respiratory Virus Prevention programs at The Task Force, which will be led by Dr. Joe Bresee.
CDC stated in a Federal Register announcement, “The Task Force for Global Health is uniquely qualified to support countries to plan for, implement and evaluate COVID-19 vaccination programs since they are currently working with the same risk groups using established tools and platforms under an existing cooperative agreement.”
Countries like Haiti and Kenya remain at less than 5% COVID-19 vaccination coverage. This not only leaves their citizens at risk of illness and death but will slow the timeline to end the pandemic and may result in a greater chance of new variants, both of which jeopardize the well-being of all people.
CoVIP is currently working with 35 countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, Central and South Asia, and Eastern Europe, including Kenya, South Africa, Guatemala, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Mongolia and others, to plan and implement immunization systems and expand health workforce capacity to vaccinate their citizens and reach the WHO’s 2021 goal of 30% of the population vaccinated once vaccine doses are received. The full list of countries is available here. With the new funding, CoVIP plans to increase the number of countries it works with to 75.
“Many countries will need technical assistance to quickly administer vaccine doses to their citizens once they arrive in the country,” said Bresee, head of The Task Force’s Respiratory Virus Prevention programs. “This funding will help us provide this assistance to countries who are working hard to protect their citizens to end this pandemic and to prevent future disease outbreaks.”
The PIVI influenza program provided the model for CoVIP. In collaboration with ministries of health, corporations, CDC and the WHO, PIVI establishes seasonal influenza vaccination programs in low- and middle- income countries, prepares for pandemic influenza, and supports countries’ efforts to control and prevent seasonal outbreaks. The expanded funding will help partner countries respond rapidly to seasonal influenza and be better prepared for respiratory virus epidemics and pandemics.
More information about the initiative, the collaboration with partner countries, and the challenges they are facing is available in the following articles:
- Interview with Boniface Kitungulu, regional field epidemiologist responsible for COVIP’s work in East and Southern Africa with countries like Kenya, Uganda, Eswatini, Lesotho, Zambia, and South Sudan
- Interview with Shalkar Adambekov, regional field epidemiologist responsible for COVIP’s work in Central Asia with countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan
- Interview with Aminu Muhammad, regional field epidemiologist responsible for CoVIP’s work in West Africa with countries such as Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone
About The Task Force for Global Health
The Task Force, based in Atlanta and founded nearly 40 years ago to advance health equity, works with partners in more than 150 countries to eliminate diseases, ensure access to vaccines and essential medicines, and strengthen health systems to protect populations. For more information on our COVID-19 work and all programs, visit www.taskforce.org.