Equitable vaccine delivery will fuel better global health processes

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Jonathan Jackson, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Dimagi & Vikram Kumar Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Dimagi


  • With origins in Brazil, South Africa and Europe, the SARS-CoV-2 variants evade border control, immunity, monoclonal antibodies and some vaccines.
  • Until we achievable equitable vaccination processes across the globe, COVID-19 is going nowhere.
    • Vaccine delivery may not be rocket science, but we can learn from Elon Musk’s team how to get it done.

    SpaceX, founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonisation of Mars, once had an epiphany: if its team were to build a reusable rocket, they could simultaneously decrease costs and increase speed, innovation and quality.

    Hence the birth of Falcon 9. Reusability allows SpaceX to refly the most expensive parts of the rocket, which in turn drives down the cost of space access.

    It was visionary, and it worked. In fact, Falcon 9 was the most launched rocket of 2020.

    The reusable rocket of global health

    In global health circles, we talk a lot about the need to strengthen health systems. What we really mean by this is that we too need a reusable “rocket”— a global health one. It would combine technology, people and process to launch intervention after intervention.

    The danger is that we could miss a golden opportunity to create this foundation if we don’t capitalise on investments currently being made in order to roll out COVID-19 vaccines. By leveraging modern technology platforms for community health workers, community-based organisations and frontline providers, we could build a reusable rocket to reach new health outcomes.

    The most immediate mission for a global health rocket is ensuring vaccine delivery is equitable and fair.—Jonathan Jackson and Vikram Kumar

    GAVI, the Global AIDS Vaccine Initiative, has created global mechanisms to try to ensure that the vaccine can be purchased by everyone. The new Biden administration announced a $4 billion contribution to GAVI. The World Bank’s $12 billion program suggests planning for roughly $5 per dose and $1 for the delivery of each.

    This $1 for delivery is key: if we are smart about it, it can be a vital downpayment on our reusable rocket. The most immediate mission for a global health rocket is ensuring vaccine delivery is equitable and fair.

    The power of community for health

    Community-based organizations play a critical role in forming trust with underserved communities and will be essential in ensuring the adoption of and access to the vaccine among key populations.

    By investing money directly into community-based organizations, rather than taking the indirect approach of paying for expensive consultants who will then connect with the organizations for their ideas, we can create the infrastructure to fight this public health crisis. And this is also how to build strong community and public health infrastructure for the future.

    Not only are these teams and systems critical elements of delivering COVID-19 vaccines, but they are also essential for successful outcomes in all other health interventions of the future. Routine immunisations for children – one of the best investments in global health – has dropped dramatically due to COVID-19.

    Empowering communities to build this foundation will require sophisticated planning, technology, verification and follow-up. Various digital health platforms have been purposely built to work offline, provide verification and multi-dose tracking, enable portable records and follow up. These systems have proven successful in many low- and middle-income countries.

    Ensuring that patients have a longitudinal digital record that goes down to the community level and that is also available at the vaccination site, will be critical for both COVID-19 vaccines’ equitable distribution and for future use cases.

    We are hearing a concerning sense of fatalism that we may have missed the only window to build a strong foundation for our global health rocket. This is simply not true.

    Yes, perhaps the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. But the second best time is now.

    Let’s build a reusable rocket that equitably delivers vaccines today and can take off again tomorrow to reach those most in need.—Jonathan Jackson and Vikram Kumar

    Many stories about vaccine rollout efforts have come to the fore, including challenges scaling new, expensive technology systems. But there are also positive stories of governments testing new, effective approaches to procuring digital technology, and saving millions of dollars.

    There is still time to create our rocket, and while there is immense time pressure, we can meet the need.

    Let’s build a reusable rocket that equitably delivers vaccines today and can take off again tomorrow to reach those most in need.

    Procurement innovation and rapid systems change is incredibly hard. Vaccine scientists have generated a moonshot by developing a set of vaccines quickly and effectively.

    Our public health community should be bold and build in they was that SpaceX did. Our product will be a reusable platform, and in turn we will bin any future plans for one-off, overpriced missions.

    the sting Milestones

    Featured Stings

    Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

    These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

    How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

    Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

    The Japanese have a word to help them be less wasteful – ‘mottainai’

    Commission adopts €70 million package for early access to EU COVID-19 vaccines in the Western Balkans

    Who holds the key to the future of biotechnology? You do

    UN rights chief bemoans unilateral sanctions on Venezuela, fearing ‘far-reaching implications’

    Aid used for trade is helping developing countries diversify

    OECD leading multilateral efforts to address tax challenges from digitalisation of the economy

    UN rights expert calls for end to ‘purgatory’ of ‘international inaction’ facing Myanmar’s remaining Rohingya

    Trump wants to implicate China in US attacks against global order

    Is “Sustainable Development” a concept that integrates Health Literacy and Health Policy as a global health action?

    With science ‘held back by a gender gap’, Guterres calls for more empowerment for women and girls

    Human Rights Council election: 5 things you need to know about it

    EU budget: Boosting cooperation between tax and customs authorities for a safer and more prosperous EU

    Eurozone plans return to growth

    Climate change update: consistent global actions urgently needed as we are running out of time

    Fair completion rules and the law of gravity don’t apply to banks

    Eurozone very close to a sustainable growth path

    FROM THE FIELD: For refugees and migrants in Europe, healthcare’s essential but a challenge to find

    Coronavirus: Commission receives first preliminary application for support from the EU Solidarity Fund for health emergency from Italy

    On Human Rights Day European Youth Forum calls for end to discrimination of young people

    With Gaza violence ‘escalating as we speak,’ UN envoy calls for ‘immediate stop’

    Suffering of thousands of war-affected Syrian children ‘unprecedented and unacceptable’

    #TwitterisblockedinTurkey and so is Erdogan

    Ukraine: €8 million in humanitarian aid to withstand winter

    ‘Agile’, multilateral response vital to combat terrorism – UN chief Guterres

    5 facts you might not know about why forest biodiversity matters

    Recovery and Resilience Facility: Belgium, Italy, Austria, and Slovenia submit official recovery and resilience plans

    Australia wants to build a giant underground ‘battery’ to help power the nation

    Commission proposes to top up support for refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey

    Four things workers want implemented by their bosses post-pandemic

    Industrial price dive may lead to point of no return

    5 creative alternatives to plastic packaging

    FROM THE FIELD: Malawi farmers diversify to fight climate change

    The JADE Spring Meeting is about to begin

    Boris to end up in jail if he loses the next elections?

    6 ways to ensure AI and new tech works for – not against – humanity

    Pushing for tax fairness in a digital world

    ‘Global clarion call’ for youth to shape efforts to forge peace in the most dangerous combat zones

    Global health challenges require global medical students

    Safer products: EP and Council close deal to beef up checks and inspections

    Nagasaki is ‘a global inspiration’ for peace, UN chief says marking 73rd anniversary of atomic bombing

    Investing in nature gives industry and business a competitive advantage. Here’s why

    CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Climate-proofing Timor-Leste

    UNICEF warns of ‘lost generation’ of Rohingya youth, one year after Myanmar exodus

    Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

    EU allocates over €43 million in humanitarian aid to South Sudan

    The 5 lessons from New York Climate Week to help us combat deforestation

    UN rights office calls on Zimbabwe Government to end ‘crackdown’ in response to fuel protests

    1 in 13 young British people have PTSD. Here’s why

    The blackened white coat of the doctors

    The clothes of the future could be made from pineapples and bananas

    COVID-19: Team Europe supports African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to access finance through digital technology

    Christine Lagarde: the three priorities for the global economy

    “Asia-Pacific takes stock of ambitious development targets”, written by the Heads of UNFPA and ESCAP

    Healthcare guidance apps to professional’s continued education?

    End fossil fuel subsidies, and stop using taxpayers’ money to destroy the world: Guterres

    Youth not prioritised in new Commission

    State aid: Commission approves €286 million Finnish measure to recapitalise Finnair

    A bad marriage can be as unhealthy as smoking and drinking

    Coronavirus Global Response: Commission joins the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX)

    Eurozone’s sovereign debt not a problem anymore?

    More Stings?

    Speak your Mind Here

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google photo

    You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s