Historical Vaccine Rollouts and COVID-19

The Center for Global Development (CGD) published a working paper that reviews the obstacles to developing vaccines and delivering vaccinations, including against COVID-19, in a historical perspective. In COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Rollout in Historical Perspective, authors Amanda Glassman, Charles Kenny, and George Yang review a subset of the steps down the path towards vaccine development and delivery. Identifying the microbial agent; research, development, and approval; production capacity; delivery; demand; and cost and financing are all briefly examined. To put it in a historical context, the authors compare COVID-19 vaccination efforts with those for smallpox, routine childhood vaccination, and influenza.

Overall, the global COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been unprecedented in terms of its rapid development and diffusion, at least for high-income and upper and lower middle-income countries. However, this paper presents several graphs to illustrate that there are profound inequities in terms of the speed and efficiency of vaccine delivery when it comes to the world’s poorest countries.

Although far more can be done (and should be done) to speed equitable access to vaccines
in the Covid-19 response, it is worth noting the revolutionary speed and broad geographic
spread of both the vaccine development and diffusion process, and the good news that this
signals for not only to the next phase of the response but also to the future of pandemic
preparedness and response.

For a more in-depth look, you can read the full paper here and watch a short video from CGD below:

For more information on topics related to this piece, visit the COVID-19 Resource Archive, the In Focus on Pandemics and Epidemics, or check out some of the many HSDL documents focusing on vaccines.

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