The immediate need is to save lives and preserve health through COVID-19 vaccinations. The inequity in the distribution and access to COVID-19 vaccines remains significant and means a significant delay for most people seeking to be vaccinated. That delay has broad consequences for health, child development and community development. Countries in Africa are particularly impacted. For example, Burundi just recently began its vaccine rollout and has a vaccination rate of approximately less than 0.1%. Other countries such as Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and South Africa are seeing another devastating wave of cases impacting their communities, due to the rapid transmission of the Omicron variant.
The global COVID-19 pandemic is overstretching health systems and exacerbating inequities within countries and across regions. 90% of countries, for example, have experienced a disruption in their ability to provide crucial health care services, leaving millions at risk of illness and death.