This week, USAID Administrator Samantha Power held a series of high-level meetings with key United States and world health experts to discuss the recently announced whole-of-government effort, the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access (Global VAX). Vaccinating the world is the best way to save lives, prevent future variants that threaten the health of communities around the world, including Americans, and undermine the global economic recovery. As more vaccine supply flows to low and middle income countries, the United States is redoubling efforts to help countries efficiently and effectively receive, distribute, and administer doses. Global VAX focuses on accelerating global efforts to get shots in arms —particularly in sub-Saharan Africa—and to enhance international coordination to rapidly overcome barriers to vaccine delivery.
Administrator Power’s meetings with leading global health experts included discussions on how to best ramp up vaccine readiness around the world and the specific challenges facing countries in sub-Saharan Africa as they work to turn vaccines in vials into shots in arms. The Administrator also met with representatives from select USAID Missions in Africa to collaborate on the most effective, and country specific, programming Global VAX can partner on at this critical juncture in the global fight against COVID-19.
Administrator Power met with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The two discussed the rapid spread of the omicron variant and implications for vaccine delivery around the world. They also discussed lessons learned from PEPFAR and other major global health initiatives; USAID’s ongoing work to support vaccine delivery; and how Global VAX will expand and accelerate these efforts.
The Administrator also met this week with Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman of Econet Global, Special Envoy to the African Union (AU) on COVID-19 and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss the next steps of the Global VAX initiative, strategies for scaling up vaccination support to countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and strengthening our partnerships to accelerate these efforts.
Administrator Power participated in the eighth annual convening of senior leadership from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which focused on innovations to strengthen pandemic preparedness, prevention, response, and resilience, and covered a range of topics such as COVID-19 drug discovery, pan-coronavirus vaccines, and global variant tracking. Administrator Power joined the “Omicron variant and the landscape of future variants” session, along with health experts including Dr. Fauci.
Throughout the week, Administrator Power and USAID senior leadership held meetings with USAID Mission leadership in sub-Saharan Africa to hear first hand about on the ground challenges to vaccine delivery and to identify solutions to rapidly accelerate vaccine access. These conversations are part of an ongoing collaborative dialogue with USAID Missions to assess country specific needs including challenges like lack of cold chain, difficulty accessing remote communities, combatting disinformation and shortages of trained health care workers in order to determine the most effective programming to help them boost vaccination rates on the ground.
Administrator Power also continues to hold bilateral meetings with foreign development ministers as part of follow-up dialogues from the Development Ministerial on Covid-19 she convened on Dec. 6. In addition to providing more details about the Global VAX initiative, these meetings serve as an opportunity for international development leaders to share insights in vaccine delivery efforts and strengthen coordination with the U.S. Government to overcome barriers to vaccine access.