Tribune. With the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on public health, societies and economies could push 150 million people into extreme poverty by the end of 2021. Countries will only be able to recover when people will be able to get on with their lives with confidence. In order to protect lives and livelihoods, we must ensure the distribution of vaccines, as soon as they are available. This task represents a huge challenge, especially for developing countries.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna laboratories have each announced the imminent arrival of a vaccine, and other trials will be completed soon. The question is no longer whether a vaccine will be available, but when and how to make it available to everyone. It is critical that low- and middle-income countries have equitable access to vaccines, first and foremost for those who need them most. Successful immunization will also require strengthening health systems and logistics capacities.
This is where the World Bank Group is called upon to play a key role. In October, we approved $ 12 billion (€ 10 billion) to help developing countries procure and distribute vaccines, tests and treatments. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), our private sector arm, is mobilizing $ 4 billion for manufacturers of vaccines and related products. Our experts in public health, procurement, transport and logistics are at work around the world.
Improve transport and storage
Our goal is to enable the vaccination of one billion people. Beyond the purchase of vaccines, their large-scale distribution requires careful planning, qualified staff and reliable health infrastructure. In this regard, three aspects are essential.
First, the logistics. Governments will need to improve transport and storage to ensure the preservation of vaccines. Some will need help to reach remote areas, increase their storage capacity, set up a cold chain and strengthen health structures. We will be inspired by the countries of West and Central Africa, which have succeeded in distributing an Ebola vaccine requiring storage at – 60 ° C (i.e. conditions comparable to those of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine) thanks to blocks of dry ice transported by motorbike to isolated villages.
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