Milestones :: Perspectives :: Research
Assessing Country Readiness for COVID-19 Vaccines – First Insights from the Assessment Rollout
World Bank – Publication :: March 11, 2021 :: 28 pages
The global COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the largest public health initiative ever undertaken, presents challenges unprecedented in scale, speed and specificities, especially in low and middle-income countries. In November 2020, anticipating the availability of safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19, the World Bank together with WHO, UNICEF, the Global Fund, and Gavi rolled out readiness assessments in more than 100 low and middle-income countries. The key insights from the assessments to date present a high-level snapshot of country readiness to deploy COVID-19 vaccines based on initial findings from ongoing assessments in 128 countries. The World Bank is providing $12 billion for developing countries to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments and strengthen health and vaccination systems to ensure that vaccines get to those who need them. The assessments provide highly valuable insights into countries’ preparedness and will feed into World Bank projects.
Initial findings from the ongoing assessments show that the world’s poorest countries are at varying degrees of readiness for the massive undertaking of vaccinating their populations against the deadly COVID-19 disease.
The assessments reveal that while 85% of countries have developed national vaccination plans and 68% have vaccine safety systems, only 30% have developed processes to train the large number of vaccinators who will be needed for the campaign and only 27% have created social mobilization and public engagement strategies to encourage people to get vaccinated. Given the worrying vaccine hesitancy levels, strategies to generate confidence, acceptance and demand for the vaccine are urgently needed.
The assessments further show that most countries are focusing on strengthening essential aspects of the vaccine delivery chain – enough to advance vaccination schedules and begin inoculating their populations. The pandemic’s devastating toll on health and economies, fear of highly contagious variants and public pressure to start vaccinations have prompted many countries to prepare aggressive vaccine delivery schedules. Although countries have many gaps in readiness, most have prepared well enough in select essential areas to begin inoculating their populations as soon as vaccines become available. Most countries are approaching the COVID-19 vaccine rollout as an emergency and are emphasizing speed and expediency over deliberative system-strengthening. As a result, they are missing out on the benefits of long-lasting improvements that a systems approach could bring.
The assessments show that COVID-19 vaccination campaigns offer unique opportunities for countries to develop specialized digital systems to track vaccines and vaccinated individuals, and monitor vaccine safety and report adverse reactions. In addition, the large-scale vaccination mobilization provides
opportunities to countries to sustainably strengthen the cold chain and introduce environmentally-friendly options that could be of use well beyond the current crisis.
Finally, it is noteworthy that in most countries the assessments have succeeded in elevating the importance of readiness to the highest levels of decision-making. The assessments have brought together government officers, healthcare professionals, the private sector and communities as well as global partners in the largest vaccination campaign in history, and have generated an unprecedented momentum as countries begin inoculating large swathes of the adult population to overcome the virus that has redefined the world in the last fifteen months.
MAIN REPORT FINDINGS
 As countries ramp up efforts to vaccinate their populations against the deadly COVID-19 disease, the world’s poorest countries show varying degrees of readiness for this massive undertaking.
 The existence of well-functioning child immunization systems is not a strong predictor of country readiness to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.
 Most countries are focusing on strengthening essential aspects of the vaccine delivery chain –enough to advance vaccination schedules and begin inoculating their populations.
 Few countries are using the opportunity provided by the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines to strengthen health systems and find long-lasting solutions for similar future challenges
 COVID-19 vaccination campaigns offer unique opportunities for countries to digitize their information systems for tracking vaccines and monitoring vaccinations
 The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is an opportunity to create environmentally friendly cold chain that could be of use well beyond the current crisis
 More countries are using indicative top-down methodologies instead of the new assessment framework and associated tools to cost gaps in readiness.
Gaps Remain in Countries Readiness to Deploy COVID-19 Vaccines
Assessments by World Bank and partners provide insights into more than 120 countries’ readiness to safely distribute vaccines
WASHINGTON, March 18, 2021 – As countries undertake the largest vaccination campaign in history, the World Bank has worked with governments, WHO, UNICEF, the Global Fund and GAVI on assessing countries’ readiness to safely deploy COVID-19 vaccines in 128 low- and middle-income countries. The results indicate that income level and other economic indicators correlate weakly with vaccine preparedness. The report focuses on ten key indicators, including cold chain & logistics, population prioritization, budgeting, training of healthcare personnel, and safety surveillance, among others.
Initial findings show that 85% of countries that participated in the assessments have developed national vaccination plans and 68% have safety measures in place, including systems for reporting adverse reactions. However, only 30% have developed plans to train the large number of vaccinators who will be needed and only 27% have created social mobilization and public engagement strategies to encourage people to get vaccinated. Given worrying vaccine hesitancy, strategies to generate confidence, acceptance and demand for vaccines are urgently needed. Countries affected by conflict and fragility (37 out of 128) scored lower than other countries on almost all indicators.
“Many developing countries are in the midst of preparing aggressive COVID19 vaccine delivery plans,” said Mamta Murthi, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank. “While most countries are well enough prepared to begin inoculating their populations, there are still important gaps that must urgently be addressed for wide, large scale vaccination rollouts to succeed.”
The World Bank is providing $12 billion for developing countries to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments and strengthen health and vaccination systems to ensure that vaccines get to those who need them. Our vaccination programs will reach over 40 countries in the near-term, amounting to $3 billion out of the $12 billion available. The readiness assessments will inform our projects and help governments and healthcare professionals better understand and manage the complex task of vaccinating large adult populations in a very short timeframe…