Madrid conference marks reaching over 1 billion children vaccinated, reviews progress and resolves to tackle challenges

The Global Vaccine Impact Conference in Madrid was an important convening of global leaders to evaluate the past two years of implementation of the Vaccine Alliance’s five-year strategy against the complex backdrop of COVID-19, and to set out a strong new commitment to vaccination as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance passed the mark of 1 billion children vaccinated since its founding in 2000.

The Conference, convened by Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, saw health ministers from 17 Gavi implementing countries and officials from 23 donor countries renew their commitment to work together, build on the successes of the past two years, tackle ongoing challenges, and harness innovation and collaboration to unleash the power of vaccination.

This came as Gavi published its new Mid-Term Review report, Raising Generation ImmUnity, which looked at data from the first two years of the Alliance’s 2021-2025 strategic period. The report charted progress against the 2019 Investment Opportunity and showed that the Vaccine Alliance is on track to meet the majority of the key commitments made to donors.

This includes supporting countries to immunise an additional 300 million children by 2025, saving more than seven million lives and generating economic benefits of US$ 80-100 billion. It also showed that countries are facing more challenges in transitioning out of Gavi support, for reasons that include the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic shocks. After a drop in routine immunisation during the pandemic, it also noted a recovery of vaccination in Gavi-supported countries in 2022, though more must be done to reach children who missed out during the pandemic.

“As co-hosts of the Gavi Mid Term Review, Spain has renewed its firm commitment to the Vaccine Alliance and to global health. Spain’s leadership role in Gavi is a testament of the solidarity and engagement both of the Spanish Government as well as of Spanish civil society,” said José Manuel Albares, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.

Against an increasingly complex operating environment for global vaccination, close to 250 participants from governments, international organisations, civil society and the private sector discussed the progress and challenges of the Alliance over the past two years and the areas requiring increased emphasis in the near future.

Health Ministers from Africa, Asia and Latin America spoke about their successes in working across the Vaccine Alliance to grow vaccination over the past two decades, but also challenges posed by the pandemic, by instability and by climate change. Along with private sector partners and civil society, attendees came together to stress the power of innovation and community engagement in reaching more children with life-saving vaccinations (full programme here).

“A whole generation of young adults are alive and healthy in India thanks to the power of immunisation – let us aspire to achieve even more for today’s children,” said H.E. Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, India

“Immunisation programmes are an investment in human capital. They improve public health, life expectancy, and work performance. They are a downpayment for future economic prosperity,” said Hon. Austin Demby, Minister of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone.

At the Global Vaccine Impact Conference, the Republic of Korea pledged US$ 70 million to allow Gavi to continue its efforts to fight against COVID-19; this funding could also support wider efforts by Gavi to make sure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic. This pledge is part of a 2022 commitment of US$ 300 million to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

The summit also saw Gavi and the European Investment Bank announce the extension of EIB’s support beyond COVAX to frontload grants to Gavi to boost routine and outbreak vaccination programmes more quickly, thereby effectively bringing forward signed donor grants and immediately converting them to available funds. Allowing Gavi to accelerate funding across its broad vaccination efforts, EIB’s Board has approved a EUR 1 billion financing facility to be available to all sovereign donors. This facility goes beyond providing immediate liquidity from traditional grants by accepting contingent grants once those conditions have been met.

“With a new sovereign donor pledge from the Republic of Korea and an extension of support from the European Investment Bank, we are prepared to respond to future health crises and pandemics right away,” said Prof José Manuel Barroso, Gavi Board Chair. “We also welcome a number of private sector, civil society and philanthropic partnerships, many of which are supported by Gavi’s Matching Fund thanks to our donors. Investing in innovation means faster delivery and new tools to help reach more people more quickly.”

“Today, I have the pleasure to announce Korea’s renewed commitment to Gavi. My government will contribute 70 million dollars this year, in alignment with our previous commitment of 300 million US dollars to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) from 2023 to 2025. My government is convinced that this contribution will play a crucial role in supporting the ongoing battle against the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. Building on the lessons learned, our support will go beyond COVID-19 immunization efforts. It will include strengthening health systems and reinforcing communities’ basic capabilities to combat not only the current crisis but also future challenges more effectively,” said H.E. Mr Bahk Sahng-hoon, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Spain, Republic of Korea, on behalf of the Foreign Minister of Korea.

“Accelerated access to finance is not only critical to pandemic response, but for greater impact in routine immunisation programmes. As part of Team Europe, the European Investment Bank has expanded support to Gavi by approving a EUR 1 billion package, providing Gavi and its donors with the financial power and flexibility for the future,” said Thomas Östros, Vice President of the European Investment Bank.

A number of innovative partnerships with private sector, philanthropy and development finance partners were announced at the conference, many of which were matched through the Gavi Matching Fund, which is supported by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Food shortages and infectious diseases cause millions of deaths around the world each year which can be prevented. By matching the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation investment, the UK is helping provide vaccines and nutrition services to around two million women and children in Ethiopia,” U.K. Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell said. “This project’s two-pronged approach of immunising people and giving them lifesaving nutrition services will reach vulnerable communities efficiently. By working with our global health partners we can help end preventable deaths for good.”

“The Netherlands is proudly supporting Gavi Matching Fund, bringing together different partners to contribute to access to vaccines and quality of health. The new programmes supported through the Matching Fund bring innovate solutions for immunization and healthcare, often using digital opportunities, engaging communities and thinking integrated and multisectoral,” said H.E. Pascalle Grotenhuis, Vice-Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands.

Additionally, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), in partnership with Gavi, announced it is seeking opportunities to expand their existing partnership to support a range of critical immunisation efforts, including COVID-19, routine childhood, and potential outbreak vaccines.

“As we emerge from the public health emergency, we see cause for both optimism and concern: routine immunisation is showing signs of recovery and Gavi is on track to meet most of its goals for the 2021-2025 period, but too many children still miss out on life-saving vaccinations,” said Dr Seth Berkley, Gavi CEO. “We thank the Spanish Government for bringing people together to re-commit to immunisation in the years to come. We’ve spent the past 23 years raising Generation ImmUnity – as another generation comes of age, we aim to protect even more children against even more diseases.”