ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has invested an initial $10.7 million in The Task Force for Global Health to help up to 50 low- and middle-income countries with COVID-19 immunization programs. The investment includes $3.5 million for the Global Health Crisis Coordination Center to launch COVIED, an information equity program to ensure COVID-19 vaccine information is accurate, trusted, culture-specific, and equally accessible for all communities and demographics in the U.S.
The global initiative will tap expertise from three Task Force programs: the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI), which supports expanded access to influenza vaccines in low- and middle-income countries; the Brighton Collaboration, which evaluates vaccine safety; and the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET), which trains field epidemiologists in more than 100 countries.
“This is the kind of daunting job that requires an enormous range of expertise and experience and a vast array of trusted partners,” said Task Force CEO and President Dave Ross, ScD. “The Task Force is perfectly suited to take on this kind of crucial, large-scale challenge, bringing together skills across our programs and partnerships to safeguard the health of entire populations.”
With experience in preparing countries for large-scale vaccine delivery, The Task Force and CDC will help countries develop plans and capacity to receive and rapidly administer COVID-19 vaccines. Additionally, the initiative will assist countries to conduct monitoring and evaluation of vaccine delivery, use, timeliness, safety, and effectiveness. The initiative will share learnings with global stakeholders.
The project will support low- and middle-income countries that have requested CDC support or have worked with CDC or The Task Force on immunization program strengthening in the past. The work will span countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe, and include countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mongolia, Lao PDR, Albania, Georgia and the Kyrgz Republic.
The initiative aims to support the timely and efficient delivery of vaccines to target groups such as health workers, ensuring access to critical services and mitigating transmission of COVID-19 within health facilities.
As an initial step, The Task Force will support activities such as helping countries to select and identify priority groups for vaccination. Once vaccines are deployed, the initiative will help countries implement immunization programs and monitor for safety and effectiveness.
This work will draw upon The Task Force’s Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction, a public-private partnership which helps countries create sustainable seasonal influenza vaccination programs to not only protect communities from the annual impact of influenza but also build immunization infrastructure, capacity, and vaccine delivery systems critical for future influenza pandemics and other infectious disease epidemics. This new initiative will focus on refining and strengthening established vaccination programs to support the current COVID-19 response, improving readiness and response capacity, while strengthening health systems for future pandemic and epidemic threats.
The Task Force has contributed in many ways to global, national, and local efforts to respond to the pandemic. Among other activities, we and our partners have:
- Coordinated the distribution of more than 9 million essential medical supplies
- Trained and equipped 14,000 epidemiologists on disease surveillance and response in more than 100 countries
- Provided guidance on harmonizing safety data collection in vaccine trials
- Provided guidance on digital exposure notification tools by technology companies such as Google and Apple
- Helped countries navigate disruptions to treatment for other diseases, such as polio, hepatitis, and neglected tropical diseases
- Collaborated with the MIT Media Lab and other partners on an Atlanta pilot project to provide health information in ways that are relevant, trusted, and effective in communities hard-hit by the pandemic, particularly Black communities, using input from community discussions and advanced media analytics
About The Task Force for Global Health
The Task Force for Global Health, 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.