The world is in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic. As WHO and partners work together on the response -- tracking the pandemic, advising on critical interventions, distributing vital medical supplies to those in need--- they are racing to find a vaccine.
Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences --- the immune system--- to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.
Immunization currently prevents 2-3 million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles. There are now vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, and work is ongoing at unprecedented speed to also make COVID-19 a vaccine-preventable disease.
There are currently more than 100 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with a number of these in the human trial phase. WHO is working in collaboration with scientists, business, and global health organizations through the ACT Accelerator to speed up the pandemic response. When a safe and effective vaccine is found, COVAX (led by WHO, GAVI and CEPI) will facilitate the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries. People most at risk will be prioritized.
The R&D; Blueprint was activated to accelerate diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics for this novel coronavirus. The Blueprint aims to improve coordination between scientists and global health professionals, accelerate the research and development process, and develop new norms and standards to learn from and improve upon the global response.
Draft landscape of COVID-19 vaccine candidates
The draft landscape of COVID-19 vaccine candidates contains information on vaccine candidates collected through public information (e.g. clinical trial registries) and information that were directly provided by vaccine developers to WHO. The landscape is generally updated twice a week, based on the latest information, including those we receive from scientists and research
Vaccine target product profile
WHO has published the target product profiles for COVID-19 vaccines, which describes the preferred and minimally acceptable profiles for human vaccines for long term protection of persons at high ongoing risk of COVID-19, and for reactive use in outbreak settings with rapid onset of immunity. We have also published the criteria for prioritization of vaccines for clinical trials.
Criteria for COVID-19 vaccine prioritization
The proposed attributes and criteria provide considerations for the evaluation and prioritization of COVID-19 candidate vaccines to be considered for further development by WHO. The target audience includes vaccine scientists, product developers, manufacturers, regulators and funding agencies.
The COVAX Facility is the global procurement mechanism of COVAX. The COVAX Facility will make investments across a broad portfolio of promising vaccine candidates (including those being supported by CEPI) to make sure at-risk investment in manufacturing happens now. This means the COVAX Facility, by pooling purchasing power from all countries that participate, will have rapid access to doses of safe and effective vaccines as soon as they receive regulatory approval. Guided by an allocation framework being developed by WHO, the COVAX Facility will then equitably distribute these doses to help protect the most at-risk groups in all participating countries.
The COVAX AMC is the financing instrument that will support the participation of 92 lower-middle and low-income economies in the COVAX Facility. The COVAX AMC is critical to ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of income level – and requires an urgent investment of US$ 2 billion, from sovereign donors, philanthropies and the private sector, by the end of 2020.
WHO is working with partners Gavi and UNICEF to ensure that the infrastructure is in place, and the technical support available, to make sure COVID-19 vaccines can be safely delivered to all those who need them.
Read our "Vaccines Explained" series