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Signs of Recovery: Countries Administer Record Volume Vaccines in 2021

ADDIS ABABA – Routine childhood immunization experienced another challenging year in 2021 across the 57 countries supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as basic vaccine coverage fell 1 percentage point to 77%, according to Gavi’s 2021 Annual Progress Report.

However, preliminary data for the first five months of 2022 suggests health systems may be recovering from the strains placed on them by the pandemic, says the report published today.

With 65 million children in Gavi-supported countries immunized through routine systems in 2021, the vaccine alliance managed to generate more than US$ 18.9 billion in economic benefits, the Report claims.

During the same period, a record US$ 161 million in co-financing was contributed by Gavi-supported countries.

This, the report says, indicates further progress towards sustainability and countries’ commitment to protecting childhood immunization.

The report also considers the fact that, with Gavi countries also administering more than 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines, their respective health systems were able to protect more people than ever before in 2021.

One area of strategic focus for the Vaccine Alliance in 2022 and beyond highlighted in the report is the increase in the number of zero-dose children, infants who have not received the first dose of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis-containing vaccine (DTP1),

The gap grew by 570,000 to 12.5 million – leaving them vulnerable to some of the world’s deadliest diseases, and making Gavi’s 5.0 mission to locate and reach them even more pressing.

Preliminary data from WHO suggests that countries’ immunization programs may be starting to recover.

Among the 16 countries having reported data for January–May 2022, the data suggests a 2% increase, as per Gavi.

Prof José Barroso, Chair of the Gavi Board, said routine immunization continued to suffer in many countries in 2021 as a result of the pandemic.

“However, we are encouraged that the countries Gavi support administered a record number of vaccine doses, both through routine programs and also in their fight against COVID-19,” Prof Barroso said

“Many countries did already begin to recover, which is a testament to heroic efforts made by their health systems and workers.”

From Gavi’s founding in 2000 to the end of 2021, over 981 million children were reached via routine programs, excluding COVID-19.

More than 1.4 billion vaccinations have been administered through campaigns and more than 16.2 million future deaths have been averted in the same period, says Gavi’s report.

The Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership established in 2000 to support countries vaccinating children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases.