World Health Organization

Joint Statement on transparency and data integrity International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA) and WHO

WHO news - Fri, 05/07/2021 - 11:00

ICMRA1 and WHO call on the pharmaceutical industry to provide wide access to clinical data for all new medicines and vaccines (whether full or conditional approval, under emergency use, or rejected). Clinical trial reports should be published without redaction of confidential information for reasons of overriding public health interest.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for information and data to support academics, researchers and industry in developing vaccines and therapeutics; to support regulators and health authorities in their decision-making; to support healthcare professionals in their treatment decisions; and to support public confidence in the vaccines and therapeutics being deployed.

While some initiatives have met with stakeholder support (e.g. WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, US NIH ClinicalTrials.gov database, Health Canada Clinical Information Portal, EMA Clinical Trials Register and Japan Registry of Clinical Trials), not all past efforts have been successful. Often this was because they were unsustainable due to reliance on goodwill or lack of appropriate resourcing.2

The common aim of these initiatives is to ensure that results of research are accessible to all those involved in health care decision-making. The priority should be for new innovative medicines and vaccines. This improves transparency and strengthens the validity and value of the scientific evidence base. To succeed, initiatives need multi-stakeholder engagement aimed at finding solutions that deliver benefits for public health.

Regulators continue to spend considerable resources negotiating transparency with sponsors. Both positive and negative clinically relevant data should be made available, while only personal data and individual patient data should be redacted. In any case, aggregated data are unlikely to lead to re-identification of personal data and techniques of anonymisation can be used.

The first benefit is public trust. Regulators are opening their decisions to public scrutiny demonstrating confidence in their work.

Another benefit is the possible check of data integrity, a scientific necessity and an ethical must. Data must be robust, exhaustive and verifiable, through peer-review. Data integrity is priceless. Wrong regulatory decisions, made on selected or unreliable data, will affect the patients who receive that medicine.

Lack of public access to negative trials has been identified as a source of bias, which weakens the conclusions of systematic reviews and provides a false sense of reassurance on the safety or efficacy of the medicine.

Publication of data allows science to advance faster, by avoiding repetition of unnecessary trials and waste of resources (human and financial). This also brings benefits by improving the efficiency of development programmes and reducing both development costs and time. Publication of data also allows secondary analyses (and meta-analysis) which have a different or complementary focus.

Many public bodies have made open access a requirement as data are a common good. Providing access to data is also owed to trial participants who contributed physically and took the potential research risks.

Not all data are of high quality, and increased public scrutiny should eventually improve the overall quality of data. Resources however are needed for data sharing, and systems for such access need to be established. Standardisation of data will allow better analyses but is not a requirement.

While there may be a small risk of misuse of data (piracy or data mining for unfair commercial purpose) and misinterpretation, trial data can be put in context when published with the regulatory review of such data.

Data must be published at the time of finalisation of the regulatory review. It cannot be justified to keep confidential efficacy and safety data of a medicine available on the market, or which has been refused access to the market. Some regulators regularly publish the data that support positive approvals, but fewer do this for rejections, while this should avoid false expectations, misuse (accidental or not) and safety issues. Many completed trials on publication platforms only disclose protocols while results remain partial, outdated or unpublished.

ICMRA and WHO are conscious of concerns that some stakeholders may have as regulators move to greater levels of transparency, but we remain confident of the overwhelming positive public health benefits of doing so.

Providing systematic public access to data supporting approvals and rejections of medicines reviewed by regulators, is long overdue despite existing initiatives, such as those from the European Medicines Agency and Health Canada. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how essential to public trust access to data is. ICMRA and WHO call on the pharmaceutical industry to commit, within short timelines, and without waiting for legal changes, to provide voluntary unrestricted access to trial results data for the benefit of public health.

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1 ICMRA is a voluntary coalition of leaders of medicines regulatory authorities that provides strategic directions for enhanced cooperation, improved communication and effective global crisis response mechanisms.2 E.g. Past declarations and private initiatives abandoned or not followed through include: -- Walsh F (26 February 2013), "Drug firm Roche pledges greater access to trials data" -- Alltrials Campaign, https://www.alltrials.net/ (most recent data from March 2019) -- WHO and multi-party Joint statement on public disclosure of results from clinical trials, 18 May 2017 (accessed here, March 2021).

 

Global experts of new WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All announced

WHO news - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 14:20
  • Initial 11 members are distinguished experts in economics, health, government, finance and development from around the world.
  • Council’s focus is on new strategies to shape economies and financial systems with the objective of building healthy societies that are just, inclusive, equitable and sustainable. It will incorporate lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Council will hold its first meeting on 6 May 2021 led by Chair Mariana Mazzucato, Professor of the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and Founding Director in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London.

 

WHO is convening 11 leading figures in economics, health and development from around the world as the first members of the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All. The Council’s role is to provide independent advice to the Director-General on addressing interrelated health and economic challenges and mapping out a way forward that supports communities and countries to build healthy societies.  To do so, it will provide recommendations for a new approach to shape the economy that supports health for all as an overall goal, including more equitable and effective health systems.

“I am delighted that WHO is convening this talented and driven group of global experts as the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All, which is Chaired by the distinguished economist Professor Mariana Mazzucato,” said Dr Tedros. “I established this Council precisely to gather leading experts in economics, policy development and health, and to benefit from their knowledge and skill. I urge them to advise on a new way forward that ensures health is at the heart of all government action and investment decisions. We must value and invest in health as our most important commodity. ”

The Council is holding its inaugural meeting today, kickstarting a robust and wide-ranging process to gather insights and develop actionable plans and forward looking practices built on real-world examples and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patron of the Council, H.E. Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, said the new body will provide strong support to WHO and countries in addressing the interconnected issues of public health and the economy.

Prime Minister Marin said: “The pandemic has had a momentous impact on health, economies and societies around the world. At the same time, it has shown that, with the right approach, it is possible to protect the vulnerable, to safeguard both health and the economy. It has underlined the meaning of global solidarity and the importance of putting people at the centre of decision-making. The participation of women in the policy design and at the heart of response and recovery is essential.”

She added: “We strongly believe that this Council will provide invaluable advice to both to the Secretariat and the Member States.”

In addition to Professor Mariana Mazzucato, as Chair, the inaugural members of the council are Professor Senait Fisseha, Professor Jayati Ghosh, Vanessa Huang, Professor Stephanie Kelton, Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Linah Kelebogile Mohohlo, Dr Zélia Maria Profeta da Luz, Kate Raworth and Dame Marilyn Waring. Additional members may be appointed. Dr Vera Songwe will join as a special guest.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone the brightest light ever on the great lack of capacity and alignment among essential sectors in society in how they respond to the interlinked health and economic challenges people face in their daily lives,” said Professor Mazzucato, Council Chair, Professor of the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and Founding Director in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London. “Government capacities for protecting public health and, in turn, safeguarding and boosting economies require interlinked strategies, investment and political commitment. Health for all must be at the heart of government investment and innovation decisions—and it must be governed with the common good in mind. The Council will work to address these many challenges and offer the world a path forward.”

The WHO Council aims to reframe health for all, as a global objective, and ensure that national and global economies and finance are structured in such a way to deliver on this ambitious goal. This includes advice on what can be done and practical tools in four important areas:  new ways to measure and value health for all, build up public sector capacity to drive transformative change and innovate towards achieving population health goals, and, to ensure financial systems invest in creating health.  This requires a transformation in financing for health,  not as a cost but a long-term investment for a “healthy society,” grounded in the fundamental truth that health and the economy are interdependent. 

 

WHO Director-General commends United States decision to support temporary waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines

WHO news - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 00:51
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the commitment by the United States administration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris to support the temporary waiver of intellectual property on COVID-19 vaccines in a bold move to end the pandemic as quickly as possible.

WHO, Germany launch new global hub for pandemic and epidemic intelligence

WHO news - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 16:22
  • The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence will be a global platform for pandemic and epidemic intelligence, creating shared and networked access to vital multi-sectoral data, driving innovations in data analytics and building the communities of practice needed to predict, prevent, detect, prepare for and respond to worldwide health threats.
  • The WHO Hub will be a new global collaboration of countries and partners worldwide, driving innovations to increase availability and linkage of diverse data; develop tools and predictive models for risk analysis; and to monitor disease control measures and infodemics. 
  • The WHO Hub will enable partners from around the world to collaborate and co-create the tools and data access that all countries need to prepare, detect and respond to pandemic and epidemic risks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Federal Republic of Germany will establish a new global hub for pandemic and epidemic intelligence, data, surveillance and analytics innovation. The Hub, based in Berlin and working with partners around the world, will lead innovations in data analytics across the largest network of global data to predict, prevent, detect prepare for and respond to pandemic and epidemic risks worldwide. 

H.E. German Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel said: "The current Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that we can only fight pandemics and epidemics together. The new WHO Hub will be a global platform for pandemic prevention, bringing together various governmental, academic and private sector institutions. I am delighted that WHO chose Berlin as its location and invite partners from all around the world to contribute to the WHO hub."

The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence is part of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme and will be a new collaboration of countries and partners worldwide, driving innovations to increase availability and linkage of diverse data; develop tools and predictive models for risk analysis; and to monitor disease control measures, community acceptance and infodemics. Critically, the WHO Hub will support the work of public health experts and policy-makers in all countries with insights so they can take rapid decisions to prevent and respond to future public health emergencies.

“We need to identify pandemic and epidemic risks as quickly as possible, wherever they occur in the world. For that aim, we need to strengthen the global early warning surveillance system with improved collection of health-related data and inter-disciplinary risk analysis,” said Jens Spahn, German Minister of Health. “Germany has consistently been committed to support WHO’s work in preparing for and responding to health emergencies, and the WHO Hub is a concrete initiative that will make the world safer.”

Working with partners globally, the WHO Hub will drive a scale-up in innovation for existing forecasting and early warning capacities in WHO and Member States. At the same time, the WHO Hub will accelerate global collaborations across public and private sector organizations, academia, and international partner networks. It will    help them to collaborate and co-create the necessary tools for managing and analyzing data for early warning surveillance. It will also promote greater access to data and information.

“One of the lessons of COVID-19 is that world needs a significant leap forward in data analysis to help leaders make informed public health decisions,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This requires harnessing the potential of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, combining diverse data sources, and collaborating across multiple disciplines. Better data and better analytics will lead to better decisions.”


WHO calls for better hand hygiene and other infection control practices

WHO news - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 12:33
WHO’s latest global survey on implementation of national infection prevention and control programmes highlights the urgent need to reduce inequalities in the availability of good hand hygiene and other infection prevention and control measures between high and lower income countries.

New WHO benchmarks help countries reduce salt intake and save lives

WHO news - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 21:23

Most people consume double the WHO-recommended 5g of daily salt intake, putting themselves at greater risk of the heart diseases and strokes that kill an estimated 3 million people each year.

Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a new set of global benchmarks for sodium levels in more than 60 food categories that will help countries reduce sodium contents in foods to improve diets and save lives.

WHO Global Sodium Benchmarks for Different Food Categories” is a guide for countries and industry to reduce the sodium content in different categories of processed foods. Around the world, consumption of processed food is a rapidly increasing source of sodium.

Confusingly, similar processed food products often contain different amounts of sodium in different countries. WHO’s harmonized global benchmarks will show countries how they can progressively lower their targets, based on their local food environments, and encourage industry to lower the sodium content in processed foods accordingly and advance toward the WHO goal of 30% reduction in global salt/sodium intake by 2025.

“Most people don’t know how much sodium they consume, or the risks it poses,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We need countries to establish policies to reduce salt intake and provide people with the information they need to make the right food choices. We also need the food and beverage industry to cut sodium levels in processed foods. WHO’s new benchmarks give countries and industry a starting point to review and establish policies to transform the food environment and save lives.”

The WHO Global Sodium Benchmarks target a wide range of categories of processed and packaged food products that significantly contribute to overly salty diets. Processed and packaged bread, savoury snacks, meat products and cheese are among the categories of high-sodium food products identified for the new global benchmarks.

Reducing sodium content by reformulating processed foods is a proven strategy to reduce population sodium intake, particularly in places where consumption of processed foods is high. It can also prevent processed foods from becoming a major source of sodium in countries where consumption of these manufactured foods may be rapidly increasing.

In the United Kingdom, voluntary targets for food manfacturers to reformulate products decreased adult salt intake approximately 15% between 2003 and 2011, indicating that target-setting across multiple food categories can achieve meaningful reductions in sodium consumption. 

“Access to affordable, healthy foods is critically important for all people in every country,” said Dr Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an Initiative of Vital Strategies. “These global benchmarks are an important first step. As consumer tastes adjust and technology advances, country governments and the WHO can steadily reduce them over time until population sodium reduction goals have been met. When we reduce sodium gradually, our food will still taste great, and only our hearts will know the difference!”

These new benchmarks are launching during a decisive year for food and nutrition policy. The United Nations Food Systems Summit in September and the Nutrition for Growth Summit in December will convene a wide range of stakeholders to transform food systems by providing opportunities for national, regional and global efforts to improve the food environment and make commitments including to limit the sodium content in processed foods.

 

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About the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from 149 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.

For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch

About Resolve to Save Lives

Resolve to Save Lives is an initiative of the global health organization Vital Strategies focused on preventing 100 million deaths from heart disease and making the world safer from epidemics. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To find out more visit: https://www.resolvetosavelives.org or Twitter @ResolveTSL

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible.

To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

 

New report sounds the alarm on global shortage of 900 000 midwives

WHO news - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 19:54
Fully investing in midwives by 2035 would avert roughly two-thirds of maternal, newborn deaths and stillbirths, saving 4.3 million lives per year. Millions of lives of women and newborns are lost, and millions more experience ill health or injury, because the needs of pregnant women and skills of midwives are not recognized or prioritized.

WHO Director-General congratulates the Democratic Republic of the Congo as 12th Ebola outbreak is declared over; stresses need to maintain vigilance to prevent virus’s return

WHO news - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 18:17

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated all involved in bringing an end to the 12th Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and stressed the need for continued vigilance to prevent a return of the disease and in containing other health challenges.

“Today’s declaration of an end to the latest Ebola outbreak in the in Democratic Republic of the Congo is a testament to the professionalism, sacrifices, and collaboration by hundreds of true health heroes, in particular the Congolese responders,” said Dr Tedros. “The World Health Organization is committed to helping national and local authorities, and the people of North Kivu, prevent the return of this deadly virus and to promote the overall health and well-being of all at-risk communities.”

This latest Ebola outbreak started in North Kivu in February, coming nine months after an earlier outbreak in the same province was declared over. It was the country’s fourth in under three years.

Dr Tedros said the return earlier this year of the virus underscored the persistent health threats that people in North Kivu face, and the need for all involved in promoting and protecting public health to remain vigilant in the face of Ebola, as well as COVID-19, measles, cholera and other challenges confronting communities, all within a difficult climate marked by violence.

In the latest outbreak, now declared over, 11 confirmed cases and one probable case, six deaths and six recoveries were recorded in four health zones since 7 February. Genome sequencing results found that the first case detected was linked to the earlier outbreak, but the infection’s source is yet to be determined.

The response was coordinated by the Provincial Department of Health in collaboration with WHO and partners. WHO had nearly 60 experts on the ground and as soon as the outbreak was declared helped local workers to trace contacts, provide treatment, engage communities and vaccinate nearly 2000 people at high risk, including over 500 frontline workers.

While this latest outbreak is over, there is a need for continued vigilance and maintaining a strong surveillance system as potential flare-ups are possible in coming months. It is equally important to keep improving infection prevention and control in health facilities to prevent all infectious diseases, and to keep supporting Ebola survivors through dedicated rehabilitation programmes. Such actions must be supported by dedicated efforts to improve the persistent challenges posed by insecurity and armed violence in the North Kivu region.

 

WHO welcomes Sweden’s announcement to share COVID-19 vaccine doses with COVAX

WHO news - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 14:18

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the Government of Sweden’s announcement today to share 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the COVAX Facility to provide life-saving vaccines to people at risk from COVID-19 in low income countries.

“Sweden’s announcement that it will share 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with COVAX is a superb gesture that must be replicated urgently, and repeatedly, by governments around the world to accelerate the equitable rollout of vaccines globally,” said Dr Tedros, who met today with Sweden’s Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr Per Olsson Fridh, during his visit to WHO’s headquarters in Geneva.

COVAX urgently needs 20 million doses during the second quarter of 2021 to cover interruptions in supply triggered by increased demands for vaccines in India where COVAX’s main supplier of the AstraZeneca product is based.

Dr Tedros added: “Such support will ensure that people in vulnerable countries, especially, in Africa, will be able to receive their second doses through the COVAX initiative. Sweden’s generous support is very timely as it comes at a time when the world needs it most.”

WHO and its partners are advocating for countries to make contributions, like Sweden’s, to donate doses from their stocks to boost vaccine supplies to COVAX to deepen vaccination coverage in low income countries and to ensure populations in such places receive needed second doses. Several other countries have made similar commitments recently, including New Zealand and France.

 

 

WHO lists Moderna vaccine for emergency use

WHO news - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 10:51

Today, WHO listed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA 1273) for emergency use, making it the fifth vaccine to receive emergency validation from WHO.

WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) assesses the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and is a prerequisite for COVAX Facility vaccine supply. It also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The vaccine has already been reviewed by WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), which makes recommendations for vaccines’ use in populations (i.e. recommended age groups, intervals between shots, advice for specific groups such as pregnant and lactating women). The SAGE recommended the vaccine for all age groups 18 and above in its interim recommendations dated 25 January 2021. 

The US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine on 18 December 2020 and a marketing authorisation valid throughout the European Union was granted by the European Medicines Agency on 6 January 2021.

The WHO EUL process can be carried out quickly when vaccine developers submit the full data required by WHO in a timely manner. Once those data are submitted, WHO can rapidly assemble its evaluation team and regulators from around the world to assess the information and, when necessary, carry out inspections of manufacturing sites.

The Moderna vaccine is an mNRA-based vaccine. It was found by the SAGE to have an efficacy of efficacy of 94.1%, based on a median follow-up of two months. Although the vaccine is provided as a frozen suspension at –25 ºC to –15 ºC in a multidose vial, vials can be stored refrigerated at 2–8 °C for up to 30 days prior to withdrawal of the first dose, meaning that ultra-cold chain equipment may not always be necessary to deploy the vaccine.

WHO emergency use listing

The emergency use listing procedure assesses the suitability of novel health products during public health emergencies. The objective is to make medicines, vaccines and diagnostics available as rapidly as possible to address the emergency, while adhering to stringent criteria of safety, efficacy and quality. The assessment weighs the threat posed by the emergency as well as the benefit that would accrue from the use of the product against any potential risks.

The EUL pathway involves a rigorous assessment of late phase II and phase III clinical trial data as well as substantial additional data on safety, efficacy, quality and a risk management plan. These data are reviewed by independent experts and WHO teams who consider the current body of evidence on the vaccine under consideration, the plans for monitoring its use, and plans for further studies.

As part of the EUL process, the company producing the vaccine must commit to continue to generate data to enable full licensure and WHO prequalification of the vaccine. The WHO prequalification process will assess additional clinical data generated from vaccine trials and deployment on a rolling basis to ensure the vaccine meets the necessary standards of quality, safety and efficacy for broader availability.

WHO has also listed the Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio, Serum Institute of India and Janssen vaccines for emergency use.

Immunization services begin slow recovery from COVID-19 disruptions, though millions of children remain at risk from deadly diseases – WHO, UNICEF, Gavi

WHO news - Mon, 04/26/2021 - 17:38

While immunization services have started to recover from disruptions caused by COVID-19, millions of children remain vulnerable to deadly diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance warned today during World Immunization Week, highlighting the urgent need for a renewed global commitment to improve vaccination access and uptake.

“Vaccines will help us end the COVID-19 pandemic but only if we ensure fair access for all countries, and build strong systems to deliver them,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General. “And if we’re to avoid multiple outbreaks of life-threatening diseases like measles, yellow fever and diphtheria, we must ensure routine vaccination services are protected in every country in the world.”

A WHO survey has found that, despite progress when compared to the situation in 2020, more than one third of respondent countries (37%) still report experiencing disruptions to their routine immunization services.

Mass immunization campaigns are also disrupted. According to new data, 60 of these lifesaving campaigns are currently postponed in 50 countries, putting around 228 million people - mostly children - at risk for diseases such as measles, yellow fever and polio. Over half of the 50 affected countries are in Africa, highlighting protracted inequities in people’s access to critical immunization services.

Campaigns to immunize against measles, which is one of the most contagious diseases and can result in large outbreaks wherever people are unvaccinated, are the most impacted. Measles campaigns account for 23 of the postponed campaigns, affecting an estimated 140 million people. Many have now been delayed for over a year.

“Even before the pandemic, there were worrying signs that we were beginning to lose ground in the fight against preventable child illness, with 20 million children already missing out on critical vaccinations,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “The pandemic has made a bad situation worse, causing millions more children to go unimmunized. Now that vaccines are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we must sustain this energy to help every child catch up on their measles, polio and other vaccines. We have no time to waste. Lost ground means lost lives.”

As a result of gaps in vaccination coverage, serious measles outbreaks have recently been reported in countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and Yemen, while likely to occur elsewhere as growing numbers of children miss out on lifesaving vaccines, the agencies warn. These outbreaks are happening in places already grappling with conflict situations as well as service disruptions due to ongoing response measures to COVID-19.

The supply of vaccines and other equipment is also essential for child vaccinations. Due to disruptions at the onset of the COVID -19 pandemic, UNICEF delivered 2.01 billion vaccine doses in 2020, compared to 2.29 billion in 2019.

“Millions of children across the world are likely to miss out on basic vaccines as the current pandemic threatens to unravel two decades of progress in routine immunization”, said Dr Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “To support the recovery from COVID-19 and to fight future pandemics, we will need to ensure routine immunization is prioritized as we also focus on reaching children who do not receive any routine vaccines, or zero-dose children. To do this, we need to work together – across development agencies, governments and civil society – to ensure that no child is left behind”.

New global immunization strategy aims to save over 50 million lives

To help tackle these challenges and support the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO UNICEF, Gavi and other partners today launched the Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030), an ambitious new global strategy to maximize the lifesaving impact of vaccines through stronger immunization systems.

The Agenda focuses on vaccination throughout life, from infancy through to adolescence and older age. If fully implemented, it will avert an estimated 50 million deaths, according to WHO - 75% of them in low- and lower-middle income countries.

Targets to be achieved by 2030 include:

  • Achieve 90% coverage for essential vaccines given in childhood and adolescence
  • Halve the number of children completely missing out on vaccines
  • Complete 500 national or subnational introductions of new or under-utilized vaccines  - such as those for COVID-19, rotavirus, or human papillomavirus (HPV)

 Urgent action needed from all immunization stakeholders

To achieve IA2030’s ambitious goals, WHO, UNICEF, Gavi and partners are calling for bold action:

  • World leaders and the global health and development community should make explicit commitments to IA2030 and invest in stronger immunization systems, with tailored approaches for fragile and conflict-affected countries. Immunization is a vital element of an effective health care system, central to pandemic preparedness and response, and key to preventing the burden of multiple epidemics as societies reopen
  • All countries should develop and implement ambitious national immunization plans that align with the IA2030 framework, and increase investments to make immunization services accessible to all
  • Donors and governments should increase investments in vaccine research and innovation, development, and delivery, focused on the needs of underserved populations
  • The pharmaceutical industry and scientists, working with governments and funders, should continue to accelerate vaccine R&D, ensure a continuous supply of affordable vaccines to meet global needs, and apply lessons from COVID-19 to other diseases

     

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    Notes to editors

    Photos and b-roll are available for download here.

    World Immunization Week 2021 takes place in the last week of April (April 24th-30th) to celebrate the lifesaving benefits of vaccines. This year’s theme, ‘Vaccines bring us closer,’ aims to show how vaccination connects us to the people, goals and moments that matter, helping improve the health of everyone, everywhere throughout life.

    The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.

    UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.unicef.org/coronavirus. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook. More information on UNICEF’s Immunization programme, available here. Visit the Vaccines for All landing page that brings together the latest trustworthy information on COVID-19 vaccines and routine immunization.

    Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunize a whole generation – over 822 million children – and prevented more than 14 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 lower-income countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines. Gavi is a co-convener of COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, together with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Learn more at www.gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

     

ACT-Accelerator one year on

WHO news - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 16:04

The ACT-Accelerator marks its first anniversary today with a special report on the global alliance’s progress against the COVID-19 pandemic. The “ACT Now, ACT Together: 2021 Impact Report” details the major scientific advances that have been made to confront the new disease, along with the history-making collaboration of global health organizations, governments, foundations, civil society, scientists and the private sector.

The report, which was launched at an event hosted by Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of WHO, with live remarks by Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, and Dag Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development for Norway, also shows the challenges ahead, including major funding gaps that threaten to derail progress against the pandemic.

“One year after the launch of the ACT Accelerator, world leaders face a choice: invest in saving lives by treating the cause of the pandemic everywhere, now, or continue to spend trillions on the consequences with no end in sight,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom said. “With a remaining funding gap of US$ 19 billion for 2021 and limited supply of products, we can only end the pandemic by funding, sharing, and scaling-up access to the tools we need to fight the disease. The time to ACT is now.”

The ACT-Accelerator alliance was launched on 24 April 2020 by WHO, the European Commission, France, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and deliver tests, treatments and vaccines the world needs to fight COVID-19.

A year ago, the world was in a very different place. Our collective understanding of COVID-19 was limited, and while we had polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing that could be done in laboratories, there were no rapid tests, no vaccines, and little was known about effective treatments. Today, rapid diagnostic tests, repurposed treatments, and vaccines exist. This scientific progress has been rapid, and unprecedented in scale and levels of collaboration.

But COVID-19 continues to spread and new variants emerge because the progress on equitably distributing those tools has not been fast enough.

COVID-19 has killed more than 3 million people worldwide, another wave is threatening many countries, and inequitable distribution of tests, treatments and vaccines is allowing the virus to accelerate and change – risking the efficacy of our current tools to fight the disease. Left to rage anywhere, the virus is a threat everywhere. A strengthened, globally coordinated effort to ensure all countries can access the tools they need is essential to help bring this virus under control and is why support for the ACT-Accelerator partnership is so important.

“COVID-19 knows no borders,” ACT-A Special Envoy Carl Bildt said. “A new variant from anywhere could unravel progress everywhere, even in a country that has achieved 100% vaccination. The pandemic is still on the rise. Only a reinforced global effort to deliver tests, treatments, and vaccines to all people everywhere, based on need rather than ability to pay, will bring an end to this pandemic. Ahead of the Global Health Summit we call on the G20, G7, and all richer countries to step up and pay their fair share to fund the global response.”

Impact Report

The rapid development of COVID-19 tools has been achieved thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of governments, global health organizations, scientists, the pharmaceutical industry, and manufacturers from round the world. The ACT-Accelerator partnership has supported and helped drive many of these efforts. Today’s impact report highlights the progress the partnership has made, including:

  • Diagnostics Pillar – co-convened by FIND and The Global Fund: Supported the development and Emergency Use Listing of reliable antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag RDTs) that can be conducted outside of laboratory facilities, guaranteed access to 120 million affordable rapid diagnostic tests, and procured 65 million tests (32.3 million molecular [PCR] tests and 32.8 million Ag RDTs) for LMICs.
  • Therapeutics Pillar – co-convened by Unitaid and Wellcome: Tracked over 300 actionable trials, supported the identification of dexamethasone as the first life-saving therapy against COVID-19 and in less than 20 days after its identification, made 2.9m doses of dexamethasone available to LMICs. Formed the Covid-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce to meet the needs of more than half a million COVID-19 patients in LMICs who need oxygen treatment per day.
  • COVAX – co-convened by CEPI, Gavi, and WHO – in partnership with UNICEF: Secured over 2 billion doses, with the first international delivery made to Ghana 3 months after the first vaccine was administered in a high-income country, and more than 40 million doses shipped to 119 economies via the COVAX Facility.
  • Health Systems Connector – co-led by the World Bank, WHO, and The Global Fund – in partnership with UNICEF and the Global Financing Facility: US$ 50 million of PPE has been procured for LMICs and country readiness assessed for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in more than 140 countries.

The development of these tools was the first, critical step in getting the pandemic under control. The need for improved tools, and to get tools to those who need them most, has never been more urgent. Securing financing remains a major challenge, but not the only challenge.

Vaccinating at this scale and in this timeframe constitutes the largest and most complex vaccine rollout in history. There are significant challenges in manufacturing and delivering on such a scale and timeline, with severe supply constraints characterizing the market at present. Of the more than 950 million vaccinations that have been given – just 0.3% have been administered in low-income countries. Testing rates in high-income countries are about 70 times higher than those in low-income countries, leaving many countries blind with little information and current infection rates or the spread of new variants. People will continue to get COVID-19 and so we need to rapidly intensify research to expand the portfolio of effective treatments, and deliver the PPE and Oxygen needed to treat those in hospital – as demand for oxygen surges in many parts of the world.  

An unprecedented mobilization of public, private, and multilateral funders has galvanized USD 14.1 billion in commitments so far, but as of today, the ACT-Accelerator partnership needs another US $19 billion to develop and deliver the tests, treatments, and vaccines needed to bring COVID-19 under control, and is calling on governments around the world to work with the ACT-Accelerator partners to fund, share and scale up the tools the world needs to bring an end to the acute phase of the virus.

The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that the global economy stands to lose as much as US$ 9.2 trillion if governments fail to ensure developing economy access to COVID-19 vaccines. Fully financing the ACT-Accelerator for 2021 would cost less than 1% of what governments are spending on stimulus packages to treat the consequences of COVID-19.

Notes to editors

The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator is the proven, up-and-running global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March 2020 and launched by WHO, European Commission, France, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on 24 April 2020.

The ACT-Accelerator works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organizations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organizations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it.

The ACT-Accelerator comprises four pillars: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and health system strengthening. 

  • The diagnostics pillar, co-convened by the Global Fund and FIND, is focused on ensuring equitable access to new and existing tests, supporting country uptake and deployment and strengthening the diagnostic portfolio with R&D investments in low-cost, easy-to-use and quality tests. In 2021, it is focused on procuring and distributing at least 900 million molecular and AG-RDTs to LMICs.
  • The therapeutics pillar is led by Unitaid and Wellcome. Therapeutics can play a role in all stages of COVID-19 disease: to prevent infection; suppress symptoms and spread of infection to others; treat or prevent symptoms; as a life-saving treatment for severe symptoms; and as a treatment that can speed up recovery. The aim in the next 12 months is to develop, manufacture and distribute millions of treatment doses, helping COVID-19 sufferers to recover from the disease.
  • The vaccines pillar, co-convened by CEPI, Gavi and WHO, is speeding up the search for an effective vaccine for all countries. At the same time, it is supporting the building of manufacturing capabilities, and buying supply, ahead of time so that at least 2 billion doses can be fairly distributed to the most high risk and highly exposed populations globally by the end of 2021.
  • The health systems connector pillar, led by the World Bank, the Global Fund and WHO, is working to ensure that these tools can reach the people who need them.
  • Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation, led by the WHO.

Since April 2020, the ACT-Accelerator has supported the fastest, most coordinated, and successful global effort in history to develop tools to fight a disease. With significant advances in research and development by academia, private sector and government initiatives, the ACT-Accelerator has advanced our understanding of what works to fight the disease. It has transformed our ability to tackle COVID-19 on a global scale: vaccines are being rolled-out worldwide, low-cost high-performing antigen rapid diagnostic tests can now detect transmission anywhere, affordable therapy for severe disease can save lives in any setting, and health systems are being strengthened.

COVID-19 continues to disrupt essential health services in 90% of countries

WHO news - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 14:39

The second round of a World Health Organization “pulse survey“ reveals that over one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, substantial disruptions persist, with about 90% of countries still reporting one or more disruptions to essential health services, marking no substantial global change since the first survey conducted in the summer of 2020.

Within countries, however, the magnitude and extent of disruptions has generally decreased. In 2020, countries reported that, on average, about half of essential health services were disrupted. In the first 3 months of 2021, however, they reported progress, with just over one third of services now being disrupted.

Overcoming disruptions

Countries have been working to mitigate disruptions. Many have now stepped up communications efforts to inform the public about changes to service delivery and provide advice about ways to safely seek health care. They are also triaging to identify and better meet the most urgent patient needs.

More than half the countries consulted say they have recruited additional staff to boost the health workforce; redirected patients to other care facilities; and switched to alternative methods to delivering care, such as providing more home-based services, multi-month prescriptions for treatments, and increasing the use of telemedicine.

In addition, WHO and its partners have been helping countries to adapt their processes so they can better respond to the challenges being placed on their health systems; strengthen primary health care, and advance universal health coverage.

“It is encouraging to see that countries are beginning to build back their essential health services, but much remains to be done,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO. “The survey highlights the need to intensify efforts and take additional steps to close gaps and strengthen services. It will be especially important to monitor the situation in countries that were struggling to provide health services before the pandemic.“

Persisting causes of disruptions

Countries are still having to make important decisions when responding to COVID-19 that may negatively affect access to care for other health issues. Redeployment of staff to provide COVID-19 relief and temporary closures of health facilities and services continue.

Although they may have taken on new staff, 66% of countries continue to report health workforce-related reasons as the most common causes of service disruptions. Supply chains are also still disrupted in nearly one third of countries, affecting the availability of essential medicines, diagnostics, and the PPE needed to safely and effectively provide care.

Communications efforts need to be further scaled up: more than half of countries report service disruptions due to patients not seeking care and because of community mistrust and fears of becoming infected.

Meanwhile, 43% of countries cite financial challenges as major causes for disruptions in service utilization. 

As a result, millions of people are still missing out on vital health care. In terms of services, the biggest impact reported by nearly half of countries is on provision of day-to-day primary care to prevent and manage some of the most common health problems. Long-term care for chronic conditions, rehabilitation, and palliative end-of-life care, is also still badly disrupted - severely affecting older people and people living with disabilities.

Potentially life-saving emergency, critical and surgical care interventions are still disrupted in about 20% of countries, reflecting the most immediate indirect consequences of the pandemic. Two thirds of countries also report disruptions in elective surgeries, with accumulating consequences as the pandemic is prolonged.

Among the most extensively affected health services (i.e. those for which more than 40% of countries are reporting disruptions) are those for mental, neurological and substance use disorders; neglected tropical diseases; tuberculosis; HIV and hepatitis B and C; cancer screening, and services for other noncommunicable diseases including hypertension and diabetes; family planning and contraception; urgent dental care; and malnutrition.

Issued ahead of World Immunization Week (which starts 24 April) and World Malaria Day (25 April) the survey reveals that serious gaps also remain in addressing disruptions to services in both these areas.More than one third of countries are still reporting disruptions to immunization services, despite progress in countries reducing disruptions to immunization services in health facilities and “outreach” immunization services by about 20% and 30% respectively compared to 2020. This highlights the need for new and sustained approaches to improving immunization coverage and uptake.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose serious challenges to global health beyond the impact of the disease itself,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “For children, disruptions to immunization services have serious consequences. As we scale up delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, we have to ensure that this does not come at the cost of essential childhood vaccinations. We cannot allow today’s fight against COVID-19 to undermine our fight against measles, polio or other vaccine preventable illnesses. Prolonged immunization disruptions will have long-term consequences for children’s health. The time to catch up is now.”

Meanwhile, nearly 40% of countries are also reporting disruptions to one or more malaria services. While progress compared to 2020 – with about 10% fewer countries reporting disruptions to malaria diagnosis and treatment and 25-33% fewer countries reporting disruptions to malaria prevention campaigns (including distribution of long-lasting insecticide impregnated bed nets, indoor spraying and seasonal malaria chemoprevention), the reported level of disruption is still significant and needs to be urgently addressed.

WHO will continue to support countries so they can respond to increased strains on health systems and rapidly evolving priorities and needs throughout the course of the pandemic, and to ensure that COVID-19 control strategies are in balance strategies to tackle other health priorities and secure continued access to comprehensive care for everyone, including the most vulnerable.

Key support mechanisms include the ACT-Accelerator, which works to speed up equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, and the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, which guides actions taken at national, regional, and global levels to tackle COVID-19.

The Organization also remains focused on the delivery of the work it has committed to before the COVID-19 pandemic started. Internally, through the “Boost initiative” and the UHC Partnership, which covers 115 countries, WHO has strengthened its capacity to provide additional support to countries so they can maintain essential health services during the pandemic, and advance progress towards universal health coverage. 

 

Note to editors

This survey looks at 63 core health services across delivery platforms and health areas. It was sent to 216 countries and territories across the six WHO regions. 135 responses were received (63% response rate) from senior ministry of health officials predominantly between January and March 2021. The responses referred to the situation in the country during the 3 months prior to survey submission (in this case predominantly covering periods between October 2020-February 2021).

The purpose of the survey was to gain insights and perspectives on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on essential health services and how countries are adapting strategies to maintain essential services. This survey round follows up WHOs previous pulse surveys on continuity of essential health services distributed throughout quarters 2 and 3 of 2020, including: Pulse survey on continuity of essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic; Rapid assessment on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on noncommunicable disease resources and services; Rapid assessment on the impact of COVID-19 on mental, neurological and substance use services; and Round 1 and Round 2 pulse surveys on immunization.

While pulse surveys have limitations such as possible reporting bias and representativeness, the strength of this effort is that it is comprehensive, and delivers information rapidly.

Statement of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization: Continued review of emerging evidence on AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccines

WHO news - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 22:54

WHO is committed to updating its policy guidance whenever relevant new information has been obtained through the use of the vaccine in populations around the world and new results from clinical research.

Accordingly, new data continues to regularly emerge from ongoing clinical trials and monitoring on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine and other vaccines. On the basis of this additional evidence, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization has updated its interim guidance on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccines against COVID-19 that are produced by different manufacturers (Astra Zeneca-Vaxzevria, Serum Institute India SII Covishield, and SK Bioscience).

WHO continues to support the conclusion that the benefits of these vaccines outweigh the risks. Pursuant to the latest data, further clarification of precautions and types of risk (ie. Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome) has been added.  More data have been obtained on the effectiveness of the vaccines in different population groups, such as older adults, making the evidence base more robust. Clarifications and specifications have been added as to the vaccination of specific population groups (pregnant and lactating women, person with previous SARS-CoV2 infection and others).

The changes to these Interim Recommendations apply to multiple sections of the document.  The updated version is available here.

The SAGE Working Group on COVID-19 Vaccines will continue to evaluate available data and modify the guidance as required.

 

World Malaria Day: WHO launches effort to stamp out malaria in 25 more countries by 2025

WHO news - Tue, 04/20/2021 - 15:14

Ahead of World Malaria Day, marked annually on 25 April, WHO congratulates the growing number of countries that are approaching, and achieving, zero cases of malaria. A new initiative launched today aims to halt transmission of the disease in 25 more countries by 2025.

Of the 87 countries with malaria, 46 reported fewer than 10 000 cases of the disease in 2019 compared to 26 countries in 2000. By the end of 2020, 24 countries had reported interrupting malaria transmission for 3 years or more. Of these, 11 were certified malaria-free by WHO.

“Many of the countries we are recognizing today carried, at one time, a very high burden of malaria. Their successes were hard-won and came only after decades of concerted action” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Together, they have shown the world that malaria elimination is a viable goal for all countries.”

Key drivers of success

Though each country’s elimination journey is unique, common drivers of success have been seen across all regions. 

“Success is driven, first and foremost, by political commitment within a malaria-endemic country to end the disease,” said Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme. “This commitment is translated into domestic funding that is often sustained over many decades, even after a country is malaria-free,” he added.

Most countries that reach zero malaria have strong primary health care systems that ensure access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services, without financial hardship, for everyone living within their borders – regardless of nationality or legal status.

Robust data systems are also key to success, together with strong community engagement. Many countries that eliminate malaria have relied on dedicated networks of volunteer health workers to detect and treat the disease in remote and hard-to-reach areas.

New report: “Zeroing in on malaria elimination”

Through the E-2020 initiative, launched in 2017, WHO has supported 21 countries in their efforts to get to zero malaria cases within the 2020 timeline. A new WHO report summarizes progress and lessons learned in these countries over the last 3 years. 

According to the report, 8 of the E-2020 member countries reported zero indigenous cases of human malaria by the end of 2020:  Algeria, Belize, Cabo Verde, China, El Salvador, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia and Paraguay.  In Malaysia, the P. knowlesi parasite, normally found in monkeys, infected approximately 2600 people in 2020.

A number of other countries made excellent progress: Timor-Leste reported only 1 indigenous case, while 3 other countries – Bhutan, Costa Rica and Nepal – reported fewer than 100 cases.

Building on the successes of the E-2020, WHO has identified a new group of 25 countries that have the potential to stamp out malaria within a 5-year timeline. Through the E-2025 initiative, launched today, these countries will receive specialized support and technical guidance as they work towards the target of zero malaria.

Malaria elimination in the Greater Mekong

In the face of the ongoing threat of antimalarial drug resistance, countries of the Greater Mekong subregion have also made major strides towards their shared goal of elimination by 2030.

In the 6 countries of the subregion – Cambodia, China (Yunnan Province), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam – the reported number of malaria cases fell by 97% between 2000 and 2020. Malaria deaths were reduced by more than 99% in this same period of time, from 6000 to 15.

Tackling malaria during a global pandemic

In 2020, COVID-19 emerged as a serious challenge to malaria responses worldwide. Since the early days of the pandemic, WHO has urged countries to maintain essential health services, including for malaria, while ensuring that communities and health workers are protected from COVID-19 transmission.

Heeding the call, many malaria-endemic countries mounted impressive responses to the pandemic, adapting the way they deliver malaria services to the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by governments. As a result of these efforts, the worst-case scenario of a WHO modelling analysis was likely averted. The analysis found that if access to nets and antimalarial medicines was severely curtailed, the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa could double in 2020 compared to 2018.

However, more than one year into the pandemic, substantial disruptions to health services persist across the globe. According to the results of a new WHO survey, approximately one third of countries around the world reported disruptions in malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services during the first quarter of 2021.  

In many countries, lockdowns and restrictions on the movement of people and goods have led to delays in the delivery of insecticide-treated mosquito nets or indoor insecticide spraying campaigns. Malaria diagnosis and treatment services were interrupted as many people were unable – or unwilling – to seek care in health facilities.

WHO is calling on all people living in malaria affected countries to “beat the fear”: people with a fever should go to the nearest health facility to be tested for malaria and receive the care they need, within the context of national COVID-19 protocols.

Note to the editor

Malaria by numbers: global and regional burden

In 2019, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria and 409 000 malaria-related deaths in 87 countries. Children under the age of 5 years in sub-Saharan Africa continued to account for approximately two thirds of global deaths from malaria.

The WHO African Region shouldered 94% of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide in 2019. About 3% per cent of malaria cases in 2019 were reported in the WHO South-East Asia Region and 2% in the WHO Region for the Eastern Mediterranean. The WHO Western Pacific Region and the WHO Region of the Americas each accounted for fewer than 1% of all cases.

Target: zero malaria

Although progress in the global response to malaria has stalled in recent years, a growing number of countries with a low burden of malaria are approaching, and achieving, the target of zero malaria transmission. Between 2000 and 2020, 24 countries reported zero indigenous cases of malaria for 3 or more years. These countries include: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cabo Verde, China, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates.

WHO malaria-free certification

Certification of malaria elimination is the official recognition by WHO of a country’s malaria-free status. WHO grants the certification when a country has proven that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission has been interrupted nationwide for at least the past three consecutive years. A country must also demonstrate the capacity to prevent the re-establishment of transmission. Globally, 39 countries and territories have achieved this milestone. Eleven countries have been certified malaria over the last 2 decades: United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), Armenia (2011), Sri Lanka (2016), Kyrgyzstan (2016), Paraguay (2018), Uzbekistan (2018), Algeria (2019), Argentina (2019) and El Salvador (2021). 

Countries that have been certified malaria-free must remain vigilant to prevent a return of the disease. Any imported cases of the disease must be identified and treated rapidly. Countries should maintain up-to-date malaria surveillance systems and ensure that health workers at all levels are continuously trained in how to prevent, detect and treat the disease.

Driving Global Health: Romain Grosjean announces his support for the WHO Foundation

WHO news - Tue, 04/20/2021 - 14:08

Romain Grosjean, French-Swiss professional racing driver competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for 2021 is announcing his support for the WHO Foundation, an independent grant-making Foundation which supports the work of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Romain will race with the WHO Foundation logo prominently displayed on his race suit and helmet this year.

Grosjean notes, “I am proud to support the important work of the WHO Foundation and WHO. Global health matters now more than ever and I am excited to use my voice to help raise awareness for key health issues of our time.”

After recovering from a devastating crash at the Formula 1 World Championship race at the Bahrain International Circuit in November, Grosjean is determined to support critical health priorities including the global response to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grosjean understands first-hand the importance of safety and resilience and is teaming up with the WHO Foundation to promote preparedness activities that ensure health for all.

“Romain is an inspiration to anyone who faces a challenge. We are thrilled to share his incredible reach and unique story with the WHO Foundation community to help engage the world of sports in global health priorities.” says Anil Soni, Chief Executive Officer of the WHO Foundation.

On 6 April 2021, International Day of Sports for Peace & Development, Grosjean and Soni partook in an Instagram live hosted by WHO to discuss sports, community, global health, vaccine equity and the path ahead of us.

Grosjean will be supporting the WHO Foundation in their upcoming vaccine equity campaign by amplifying key messages and encouraging his community to participate in the global fight to end the pandemic.

Editors notes:

Images of Romain Grosjean’s race suit showing the WHO Foundation logo can be downloaded from here: https://bit.ly/3na1Oqn

Please use credit: NTT Indycar series/R. Grosjean

About the WHO Foundation

The WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation, based in Geneva, that sets out to protect the health and well-being of everyone in every part of the world, working alongside the World Health Organization and the global health community. It aims to support donors, scientists, experts, implementing partners, and advocates around the world in rapidly finding new and better solutions to the most pressing global health challenges of today and tomorrow. The Foundation targets evidence-based initiatives that support WHO in delivering Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 (To ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all). It is focused on reducing health risks, averting pandemics, better managing diseases, and creating stronger health systems. It tackles these areas by building awareness and supporting its partners, including WHO, so that every life is invested in and the world is ready for any health emergency that may arise. WHO Foundation. Together we have so much to achieve.

More information: www.who.foundation

 

Statement on the seventh meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic

WHO news - Mon, 04/19/2021 - 16:56

The seventh meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) took place on Thursday, 15 April 2021 from 12:00 to 16:30 Geneva time (CEST).

Proceedings of the meeting

Members and Advisors of the Emergency Committee were convened by videoconference.

The Director-General welcomed the Committee, expressed concern over the continued rise in cases and deaths, and the need to scale up the global vaccination efforts. He thanked the committee for their continued support and advice.

Representatives of the Office of Legal Counsel (LEG) and the Department of Compliance, Risk Management, and Ethics (CRE) briefed the members on their roles and responsibilities. The Ethics Officer from CRE provided the Members and Advisers with an overview of the WHO Declaration of Interest process. The Members and Advisers were made aware of their individual responsibility to disclose to WHO, in a timely manner, any interests of a personal, professional, financial, intellectual or commercial nature that may give rise to a perceived or direct conflict of interest. They were additionally reminded of their duty to maintain the confidentiality of the meeting discussions and the work of the Committee. Each member who was present was surveyed and no conflicts of interest were identified. Two members of the Committee and one advisor who were members of the joint international team participating in the WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2 agreed not to contribute to potential recommendations made by the Committee regarding the investigations concerning the origin and emergence of the virus.

The Secretariat turned the meeting over to the Chair, Professor Didier Houssin. Professor Houssin also expressed concern over the current trends with the COVID-19 pandemic and reviewed the objectives and agenda of the meeting. 

The Secretariat presented on the following topics and responded to questions from the Committee.

  • Progress made on WHO’s implementation of the 15 January 2021 advice to the Secretariat;
  • Recent global and regional epidemiological trends, the tracking, monitoring and assessment process for SARS-CoV-2 variants, updates on the mission to understand SARS-CoV-2 origins, and the actions that WHO is taking to ensure a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Global COVID-19 vaccine rollout and equity, the impact of vaccines on asymptotic infection and transmission, and vaccine performance against variants of concern (VOC);
  • WHO’s assessment of the impact of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern on public health interventions; and
  • An overview of WHO actions related to health measures in relation to international traffic.  

The Committee thanked the Secretariat for the quality of the presentations made and unanimously agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic still constitutes an extraordinary event that continues to adversely affect the health of populations around the world, pose a risk of international spread and interference with international traffic, and to require a coordinated international response. As such, the Committee concurred that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) and offered advice to the Director-General.

The Committee noted that many of the past recommendations remain relevant to current global response efforts. The Committee requests that the IHR Secretariat review past advice and temporary recommendations and bring to the committee a proposal for the process of new issuance, termination, or modification of advice and temporary recommendations in a consistent manner.

The Committee recognized WHO’s and States Parties’ progress in implementing the previous advice and Temporary Recommendations from the 6th meeting of the Emergency Committee. The Committee congratulated the mission team and the report from the WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2 and encouraged implementation of the recommendations published in the Mission report. The Committee remains concerned that the world will not exit the pandemic unless, and until, all countries have access to appropriate supplies of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines, irrespective of their ability to pay and the capacity and financial resources to rapidly and effectively vaccinate their populations. Inequities within and among all countries is slowing the return to normal social and economic life. The Committee provided the following advice to the Director-General accordingly.  

The Director-General determined that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to constitute a PHEIC. He accepted the advice of the Committee to WHO and issued the Committee’s advice to States Parties as Temporary Recommendations under the IHR. 

The Emergency Committee will be reconvened within three months or earlier, at the discretion of the Director-General. The Director-General thanked the Committee for its work.

Advice to the WHO Secretariat

COVID-19 Vaccination

  1. Promote global solidarity and equitable vaccine access by encouraging States Parties and manufacturers to support the COVAX Facility, including by sharing vaccine doses, and to conduct technology transfer for local production of COVID-19 vaccines and ancillary supplies, including in low- and middle-income countries with scalable capacities.
  2. Accelerate evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, encourage regulatory agencies to use reliance mechanisms, and support States Parties in strengthening their regulatory agencies to facilitate supply of vaccines with assured quality, efficacy, and safety.
  3. Mobilize technical assistance and financial support to States Parties with insufficient capacity and financial resources for vaccine introduction and roll out.
  4. Encourage States Parties to prioritize vaccination of high-risk groups as identified in the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts in Immunization (SAGE) roadmap.
  5. Continue to closely monitor potential vaccine safety signals globally, disseminate timely reports on adverse events following immunization (AEFI), and provide regular SAGE interim recommendations to inform timely national decision-making on the use of COVID-19 vaccines.
  6. Continuously collect and share best practices and lessons learned from COVID-19 vaccination, to guide national, regional, and global decision-making.
  7. Strengthen WHO and support strengthening of States Parties’ capacities to prevent, detect and respond to the growing threat of substandard and falsified vaccines.
  8. Encourage all countries and support low- and middle-income countries to conduct research in line with WHO guidance and best practices. Research topics include COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and effectiveness with regards to infection, transmission, and disease including due to VOC, duration of protection against disease and asymptomatic infection, long-term protection after using different vaccination intervals, protection after one/two/booster dose schedules, and protection following mixed vaccine product schedules.
  9. Accelerate research to establish correlates of protection from COVID-19 vaccines against infection and disease, including for VOC, thereby facilitating implementation of vaccines and policy development on the use of vaccines. SARS-CoV-2 Variants
  10. Support States Parties to strengthen their epidemiological and virologic surveillance as part of a comprehensive strategy to control COVID-19.
  11. Provide clear guidance to States Parties for sequencing to monitor virus evolution and encourage broader geographic representative of genetic testing, rapid sharing of sequences, and meta-data with WHO and publicly available platforms. This will strengthen SARS-CoV-2 evolution monitoring, increase global understanding of variants, and inform decision-making for public health and social measures, diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
  12. Strengthen the WHO SARS-CoV-2 risk monitoring and assessment framework for variants by accelerating collaboration, harmonizing research to answer critical unknowns about mutations and VOC, and prioritizing issues most relevant for vaccine development, regulatory authorization, and policy formulation, through relevant networks and expert groups such as WHO SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution Working Group, WHO Research and Development Blueprint for Epidemics.
  13. Work with States Parties to conduct in-depth analyses into the factors contributing to the current surge of cases and deaths, including the potential role of SARS-CoV-2 variants.
    Health Measures in Relation to International Traffic
  14. Update the WHO December 2020 risk-based guidance for reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission related to international travel (by air, land, and sea) based on current science and best practices that include clear recommendations for testing approaches and traveler quarantine duration, as appropriate. Incorporate an ethical framework into the updated guidance to guide national decision making. The guidance should take into consideration COVID-19 vaccination roll out, immunity conferred by past infection, risk settings, movements of migrants, temporary workers, and purpose of travel (non-essential versus essential).
  15. Continue to coordinate with relevant stakeholders in the fields of international travel and transport, including ICAO, UNWTO, and IATA, for the regular review, updating, and dissemination of evidence-based guidance on travel-related risk reduction measures.
  16. Continue to update the WHO interim position on the considerations regarding requirements of proof of vaccination and to produce interim guidance and tools related to standardization of paper and digital documentation of COVID-19 travel-related risk reduction measures (vaccination status, SARS-COV-2 testing and COVID-19 recovery status) in the context of international travel.
  17. Continue to work with States Parties and partners to enable essential travel and repatriation and to facilitate the movement of goods to prevent delays in access to aid and essential supplies.
  18. Continue to encourage vaccination of seafarers and air crews in line with the Joint statement on prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers and aircrew.
    Origin of SARS-CoV-2
  1. Proceed with rapid implementation of the recommendations in the WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2 report as part of the phase two studies.
  2. Encourage research into the genetic evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  
    One Health
  3. Promote One Health approaches to better understand and reduce the risk of spill-over of emerging infections from animal to human populations and from humans to animals, including from domestic animals.  
  4. Work with partners to develop and disseminate joint risk-based guidance for regulation of wet markets and farms to reduce transmission of novel pathogens from humans to animals and vice-versa.
    Risk Communications, Community Engagement, and Risk Management
  5. Provide communications materials and guidance to explain to communities the continued need for a sustained pandemic response; document and provide messaging to respond to pandemic fatigue.  
  6. Provide the public with communication materials that outline the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations and therapeutics, explain the need for the continuation of public health and social measures, and dispel misinformation.
  7. Assist States Parties in providing their populations with credible and current information to guide national decision-making by analyzing the latest scientific evidence, sharing evidence-based good practices and experiences, and providing tools and strategies for engaging and understanding community concerns.
Temporary Recommendations to States PartiesCOVID-19 Vaccination
  1. Contribute to global solidarity efforts to increase equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and ancillary supplies by supporting the COVAX Facility and engaging in technology transfer, where feasible.
  2. Reduce national and global inequities by ensuring vulnerable populations’ access to COVID-19 vaccines and by prioritizing vaccination of high-risk groups in line with the SAGE Roadmap. In light of currently limited global supply, prioritized vaccination can ensure vaccine supply is available for all countries.
  3. Enhance capacity for COVID-19 vaccination by using the guidance, tools, and trainings for national/subnational focal points and health workers available in the COVID-19 vaccine introduction toolkit.  
  4. Incorporate, as necessary and appropriate, the private sector into the COVID-19 vaccine planning and introduction to supplement existing service provision and vaccination capacity.
  5. Share with WHO data and key insights on COVID-19 vaccine uptake and acceptance, wherever possible, and provide the public with credible information on vaccine safety and the benefits of vaccination to address concerns.
  6. Strengthen national vaccine pharmacovigilance systems to identify, report, and respond to vaccine safety signals. SARS-CoV-2 Variants
  7. Strengthen epidemiological and virologic surveillance as part of a comprehensive strategy to control COVID-19 and leverage existing systems such as the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and relevant networks for systematic sharing of data and specimens.
  8. Share sequences and meta-data with WHO and publicly available platforms to strengthen SARS-CoV-2 evolution monitoring, increase global understanding of variants, and inform decision-making for public health and social measures, diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
  9. Virus sharing, including sharing of VOC, should be undertaken to facilitate evaluation of vaccines against VOC using internationally standardized assays.
    Health measures in relation to international traffic
  10. Do not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, given the limited (although growing) evidence about the performance of vaccines in reducing transmission and the persistent inequity in the global vaccine distribution. States Parties are strongly encouraged to acknowledge the potential for requirements of proof of vaccination to deepen inequities and promote differential freedom of movement.
  11. Prioritize vaccination for seafarers and air crews in line with the Joint statement on prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers and aircrew. Special attention should be paid to seafarers who are stranded at sea and who are stopped from crossing international borders for crew change due to travel restrictions, including requirements for proof of COVID-19 vaccination, to ensure that their human rights are respected.
  12. Implement coordinated, time-limited, risk-based, and evidence-based approaches for health measures in relation to international traffic in line with WHO guidance and IHR provisions. If States Parties implement quarantine measures for international travelers on arrival at their destination, these measures should be based on risk assessments and consider local circumstances.
  13. Reduce the financial burden on international travelers for the measures applied to them for the protection of public health (e.g. testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination), in accordance with Article 40 of the IHR.
  14. Share information with WHO on the effects of health measures in minimizing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during international travel to inform WHO’s development of evidence-based guidance.
    One Health
  15. Strengthen regulation of wet markets and discourage the sale or import of wild animals that pose a high risk of transmission of novel pathogens from animals to humans or vice versa.
  16. Conduct risk-based monitoring of animal populations to reduce disease transmission from animals to humans. Monitoring efforts should prioritize potential high-risk animal populations that may become reservoirs or lead to emergence of novel viruses or variants.
    Origins of SARS-CoV-2
  17. Support global research efforts to better understand critical unknowns about SARS-CoV-2 including the origin of the virus as well as specific mutations, variants, and genetic factors associated with severe disease.Risk Communications, Community Engagement and Risk Management
  18. Communicate about COVID-19 vaccinations clearly and consistently, including on the benefit-risk of vaccination and on potential AEFI. It should be clearly communicated that no vaccination is 100% effective and that risk of disease, especially severe disease, is significantly reduced but not eliminated. Consequently, public health and social measures are still critically needed to prevent infections and control transmission of SARS-CoV-2 while vaccination supplies increase and coverage grows. Materials should be provided in an easily understandable format and local languages.

  19. Engage and enable communities, the media, and civil society stakeholders in response efforts to reduce pandemic fatigue and enhance vaccine acceptance.

  20. Establish mechanisms to prepare and support health workers and public health authorities as the pandemic is likely to continue for many additional months.

In addition, the following previous recommendations are extended as advised by the Committee.

Extension and Updates of Previous Advice to the WHO Secretariat:

Essential Health Services and Strengthening Health Systems: Work with partners to support States Parties in strengthening their essential health services, with a particular focus on mental health, public health prevention and control systems, and other societal impacts, as well as preparing for and responding to concurrent outbreaks, such as seasonal influenza. Special attention should continue to be provided to vulnerable settings.

Provide strategic insight on how States Parties can strengthen and sustain their public health infrastructure, capacities, and functions developed for COVID-19 response to support strengthened health systems, emergency preparedness, and universal health coverage in the long-term.

Extension and Updates of Previous Temporary Recommendations to States Parties:

Essential Health Services and Strengthening Health Services: Maintain essential health services with sufficient funding, supplies, and human resources; strengthen health systems to cope with mental health impacts of the pandemic, concurrent disease outbreaks, and other emergencies.

Continue to strengthen public health infrastructure, system capacities, and functions for COVID-19 response, build health systems that can meet health security demands, and to enhance universal health coverage.

 

Greta Thunberg, climate and environment activist, joins World Health Organization’s call for vaccine equity

WHO news - Mon, 04/19/2021 - 13:12

The Greta Thunberg Foundation to donate 100 000 Euros to support vaccine equity

 

Ms Thunberg urges countries and manufacturers to boost and share COVID-19 vaccine supplies so everyone everywhere can be vaccinated

 

Greta Thunberg, the climate and environment activist, will donate 100,000 Euros (US$ 120 000) via her foundation, to the WHO Foundation, in support of COVAX to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, as part of the global effort to ensure equitable access of vaccines to the most at-risk in all countries, including health workers, older people and those with underlying conditions.

The donation has been made possible thanks to awards that the Greta Thunberg Foundation has received for her advocacy in support of action on climate change.

Ms Thunberg, who today will join the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 press conference (details below) said: “The international community must do more to address the tragedy that is vaccine inequity. We have the means at our disposal to correct the great imbalance that exists around the world today in the fight against COVID-19. Just as with the climate crisis, we must help those who are the most vulnerable first. That is why I am supporting WHO, Gavi and all involved in the COVAX initiative, which I believe offers the best path forward to ensure true vaccine equity and a way out of the pandemic.”

On average, 1 in 4 people in high-income countries have received a coronavirus vaccine, compared with just 1 in more than 500 in low-income countries.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked Greta Thunberg for her advocacy in support of vaccine equity and the example she has set, through the Greta Thunberg Foundation, for making this life-saving donation to COVAX.

“Greta Thunberg has inspired millions of people worldwide to take action to address the climate crisis, and her strong support of vaccine equity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic yet again demonstrates her commitment to making our world a healthier, safer and fairer place for all people,” said Dr Tedros. “I urge the global community to follow Greta’s example and do what they can, in support of COVAX, to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from this pandemic.”

Anil Soni, chief executive officer of the WHO Foundation, applauded the donation by the Greta Thunberg Foundation as an important signal to policymakers that there is widespread support from young people around the world for a global response to this global challenge.

“Greta’s gift shows how we, as a global community, must come together to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to COVID-19 vaccines. Each of us can do our part,” said Mr Soni. “The WHO Foundation is committed to working hand in hand with all those who share this vision.”

The WHO Foundation is mobilizing resources to support COVAX, in part through a new fundraising campaign being launched at the end of April.

-----------------------------

Editors notes:

Greta Thunberg will join the WHO COVID-19 press conference later today, Monday 19 April, at 5pm Central European Summer Time. She will be joined by WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros, and youth activists from the Global Youth Mobilization initiative.

Journalists can follow the press conference on WHO’s social media channels or connect using the following details:

  • By Zoom: https://who-e.zoom.us/j/97576439142   Password: VPCyouth21
  • By phone: Webinar ID  975 7643 9142; Numeric passcode for phone:  4662611775; International numbers https://who-e.zoom.us/u/aczVepLgsX

    About Greta Thunberg:

    Greta Thunberg (born 2003) is a climate and environmental activist from Sweden. In 2018, she started a global school strike movement to protest against governments’ inaction on the climate crisis. Since then, millions of young people have demonstrated on the streets and online, asking world leaders to listen to the science and take action to protect our future.

    The Greta Thunberg Foundation was founded in 2019 and supports projects and groups working towards a just and sustainable world by donating award and royalty funds linked to Greta Thunberg’s activism.

    About the WHO Foundation:

    The WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation, based in Geneva, that sets out to protect the health and well-being of everyone in every part of the world, working alongside the World Health Organization and the global health community. It aims to support donors, scientists, experts, implementing partners, and advocates around the world in rapidly finding new and better solutions to the most pressing global health challenges of today and tomorrow.

    The Foundation targets evidence-based initiatives that support WHO in delivering Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 (To ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all). It is focused on reducing health risks, averting pandemics, better managing diseases, and creating stronger health systems. It tackles these areas by building awareness and supporting its partners, including WHO, so that every life is invested in and the world is ready for any health emergency that may arise.

    WHO Foundation. Together we have so much to achieve
    More information: www.who.foundation

 About WHO:

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on TwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInTikTokPinterestSnapchatYouTube

 

 

WHO-backed global youth mobilization funds young people's ideas to combat impact of COVID-19 pandemic

WHO news - Mon, 04/19/2021 - 11:24
  • Initiative led by the world’s six largest youth organizations and supported by the World Health Organization and United Nations Foundation will fund the work of young people in communities impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic
  • Impact of the global pandemic on young people to be addressed at Global Youth Summit
  • Young people will decide where the money goes and how it is spent
  • Global Youth Mobilization backed by UNICEF, USAID, UNFPA, European Commission, Salesforce, FIFA and Heads of State and Governments from around the world

From today, young people around the world will be able to apply for funding to support innovative Local Solutions to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of a new initiative called the Global Youth Mobilization. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, climate change activist Greta Thunberg and youth representatives from the Global Youth Mobilization will launch the call for applications at a press conference on Monday 19 April 2021 at 1700 CEST.

Led by the Big 6 Youth Organizations and backed by the WHO and United Nations Foundation, the Global Youth Mobilization is an initiative of young people and voluntary organizations taking action to improve their lives now and in a post-COVID-19 world.

Hundreds of millions of young people have had to put their lives on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 90 per cent of young people have reported increased mental anxiety during the pandemic; more than one billion students in almost every country have been impacted by school closures; 80 per cent of young women are worried about their future; and one in six young people worldwide have lost their jobs during the pandemic.[1]

The Global Youth Mobilization Local Solutions funding will by-pass traditional funding and support streams to invest in young people and community grassroots organizations anywhere in the world. A world first at this scale and level of ambition, young people and community organizations are able to apply for funding via one centralised platform, available in multiple languages. These local solutions will be judged and decided on by young people, for young people.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “WHO is committed to ensuring the voices, energy and solutions offered by youth are at the centre of the world’s recovery from COVID-19. Our collaboration with the Big 6 and the United Nations Foundation will fuel wide-ranging actions led by young people to address the challenges their own communities face, and will also provide global platforms for their wisdom and ideas to be heard and acted on.”

From education disruption and job losses, to a decline in mental health and rising gender-based violence, the Global Youth Mobilization will support young people to overcome the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. An initial $2 million of funding will be available in four tiers, from $500 through to $5,000 and an ‘accelerator’ program will scale and replicate the most promising solutions, with further funding lined up over the coming months.

A Global Youth Summit, to be held virtually on 23- 25 April, marks the starting point for young people to get involved in the mobilization. Over the three days, thousands of young people, leaders, policy makers and changemakers will come together in one space to discuss the issues facing young people across the world.

The mobilization is being supported by Governments, UN agencies and Royal Families including, the Queen of Malaysia, the President of Kenya, President of Ghana, the Vice President of Nigeria, the Government of Fiji, the Prime Minister of Belgium, the Government of Singapore as well as the European Commission, USAID, UNICEF and UN Population Fund. More details, and further Government support, will be announced at the Global Youth Summit.

The Global Youth Mobilization and its supporters are calling on governments, businesses, and policy makers to back the initiative and commit to prioritising young people in their policies and investing in their futures.

Funded by the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, other supporting global partners include high-profile brands and advocates, including: Salesforce, FIFA, the Special Olympics, UNHCR, Cambridge International, Peace First, Generation Unlimited and Influential. 

Dr Tedros will open the Global Youth Summit alongside Youth Representatives of the Global Youth Mobilization Board. It will feature youth activists from hundreds of countries, three plenary sessions with high-profile speakers, and over 60 interactive breakout sessions involving a range of partners. The Summit will be available to anyone, via broadcast and in five core languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian.

Daisy Moran, Youth Board Representative, Global Youth Mobilization Board, said: “This is a pivotal moment for our generation. The Global Youth Mobilization provides an opportunity for young people to take an active role in the immediate and long-term recovery from the impact of COVID-19. Our experiences, creativity and passions will inform policies and decisions affecting all our lives and I urge people to apply for the funding available. Together, as campaigners, members of youth focused organisations, global health actors, and volunteers from around the world, we are calling for action now.”

For more information, please visit: www.globalyouthmobilization.org

[1] All sources are included in this paper: Young People Championing Post-Pandemic Futures: Policy Recommendations from the Big 6 Youth Organizations

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOTES TO EDITORS

The WHO press conference will take place at 1700 CEST on Monday 19 April.

You can join the press conference by:

Zoom:

https://who-e.zoom.us/j/97576439142
Password: VPCyouth21

Phone:
Webinar ID: 975 7643 9142
Numeric passcode for phone: 4662611775

International numbers available: https://who-e.zoom.us/u/aczVepLgsX

 

For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:

About the Global Youth Mobilization

The Global Youth Mobilization is led by the Big 6 Youth Organizations, an alliance of leading international youth-serving organizations:

World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and a leading programme for youth development, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award (The Award).

Together, the Big 6 actively involve and engage more than 250 million young people, contributing to the empowerment of more than one billion young people during the last century.

The Global Youth Mobilization is led by a diverse Board made up of youth representatives drawn from across the Big 6, alongside CEOs of the Big 6 and representatives from the World Health Organization and United Nations Foundation.

Social Handles

 

Media interview opportunities

The following are available for interview from the 19 April through to the Global Youth Summit from 23 – 25 April.

Global Youth Mobilization Board members

  • Daisy Moran, Global Youth Mobilization Youth Board member

    Daisy is a youth activist based in Illinois, USA. An active member of the YMCA movement, she is currently Director of Youth Achievement & Community Engagement at Two Rivers YMCA. You can read her full biography here.

  • Tharindra Arumapperuma, Global Youth Mobilization Youth Board member

    Tharindra is a youth activist based in Sri Lanka. An emerging leader for The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award since 2017. She has achieved all three levels of the Award Programme and volunteers as a trainer for the Award in Sri Lanka and globally. You can read her full biography here.

  • Ahmad Alhendawi, Chair of the Global Youth Mobilization Board

    Ahmad Alhendawi is the 10th Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), becoming the youngest to helm one of the world’s leading educational youth movements. Prior to his appointment in WOSM, Mr. Alhendawi served as the first-ever United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth and the youngest senior official in the history of the UN. You can read his full biography here. 

  • Stories from the pandemic

  • Elahi is an IFRC volunteer who has been supporting communities across Bangladesh throughout the pandemic. Initially in hospitals in the immediate response to the crisis and since supporting young people with online skills development. Read about Elahi here.

  • Estrella Gutierrez – 24, Mexico - World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

    Estrella is a Girl Guide from Mexico who worked a student doctor volunteer throughout the pandemic. Read her incredible story here.

  • Gregory Kipchirchir - 22, Kenya – The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award

Gregory is a Gold Award participant who during the pandemic become heavily involved in farming and local community tree planting projects as a way to support those around him. Read his story here


 

 

 

Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) review of latest evidence of rare adverse blood coagulation events with AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine (Vaxzevria and Covishield)

WHO news - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 20:33

A very rare new type of adverse event called Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS), involving unusual and severe blood clotting events associated with low platelet counts, has been reported after vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccines Vaxzevria and Covishield. A specific case definition for TTS is being developed by the Brighton Collaboration1. This will assist in identifying and evaluating reported TTS events and aid in supporting causality assessments.

The biological mechanism for this syndrome of TTS is still being investigated. At this stage, a ‘platform specific’ mechanism related to the adenovirus-vectored vaccines is not certain but cannot be excluded. Ongoing review of TTS cases and related research should include all vaccines using adenoviral vector platforms. The GACVS noted that an investigation has been initiated into the occurrence of TTS following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered in the United States. The TTS syndrome has not been linked to mRNA-based vaccines (such as Comirnaty or the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine).

Based on latest available data, the risk of TTS with Vaxzevria and Covishield vaccines appears to be very low. Data from the UK suggest the risk is approximately four cases per million adults (1 case per 250 000) who receive the vaccine, while the rate is estimated to be approximately 1 per 100 000 in the European Union (EU). Countries assessing the risk of TTS following COVID-19 vaccination should perform a benefit-risk analysis that takes into account local epidemiology (including incidence and mortality from COVID-19 disease), age groups targeted for vaccination and the availability of alternative vaccines.

Work is ongoing to understand risk factors for TTS. Some investigators have looked into rates of TTS by age2.  GACVS supports further research to understand age-related risk because while available data suggest an increased risk in younger adults, this requires further analysis. On the issue of sex-related risk, although more cases have been reported in females, it is important to underscore that more women have been vaccinated and that some TTS cases have also been reported in men. Therefore, further analysis is required to determine any sex-related risk. GACVS recommends further epidemiological, clinical and mechanistic studies to fully understand TTS. 

Thrombosis in specific sites (such as the brain and abdomen) appears to be a key feature of TTS. Clinicians should be alert to any new, severe, persistent headache or other significant symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain and shortness of breath, with an onset between 4 to 20 days after adenovirus vectored COVID-19 vaccination.

At a minimum, countries should encourage clinicians to measure platelet levels and conduct appropriate radiological imaging studies as part of the investigation of thrombosis.  Clinicians should also be aware that although heparin is used to treat blood clots in general, administration of heparin in TTS may be dangerous, and alternative treatments such as immunoglobulins and non-heparin anticoagulants should be considered.

There may be a geographic variation in the risk of these rare adverse events. It is therefore important to evaluate potential cases of TTS in all countries. Countries are encouraged to review, report and investigate all cases of TTS following COVID-19 vaccinations. Countries should assess cases according to the presence of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia and the time to onset following vaccination, using the Brighton Case Definition of TTS.

Whilst we have some information on Comirnaty, Moderna (mRNA-1273), Vaxzevria and Covishield vaccines, there is limited post-market surveillance data on other COVID-19 vaccines and from low- and middle-income countries. GACVS highly recommends that all countries conduct safety surveillance on all COVID-19 vaccines and provide data to their local authorities and to the WHO global database of individual case safety reports. This is urgently needed to support evidence-based recommendations on these life-saving vaccines. 

Open, transparent, and evidence-based communication about the potential benefits and risks to recipients and the community is essential to maintain trust. WHO is carefully monitoring the rollout of all COVID-19 vaccines and will continue to work closely with countries to manage potential risks, and to use science and data to drive response and recommendations.


1 https://brightoncollaboration.us/draft-case-definition-of-thrombosis-and-thromboembolism/

2 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/976877/CovidStats_07-04-21-final.pdf

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