Microsoft and Unicef are driving the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines in low- and middle-income countries with their joint COVAX platform. The information hub helps teams prepare for shipments, manage vaccine stocks and supplies, and assist health professionals with vaccination campaigns.
The platform – which is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the World Health Organization (WHO); and the Coalition for Innovation in Epidemic Preparedness – was originally launched in 2021 and has so far delivered more than 1.5 billion doses to 146 countries, with more than 80 per cent of the doses going to low- and middle-income countries.
Despite this success, the platform is still being used to address the inequality in vaccine distribution. According to the New York Times, many of the world's 82 poorest countries have vaccination rates below 20 per cent, while two-thirds of the world's richest countries have reached the WHO’s goal of fully vaccinating 70 per cent of their populations.
“COVAX's goal is to make Covid-19 vaccines available to all populations, regardless of where they are and their countries’ income level,” says Gemma Orta-Martinez, strategic monitoring and data supply chain manager at Unicef. “The information centre is a critical tool that Unicef and partners use to provide transparency and access to critical information.”
According to Microsoft, the platform is playing a critical role in facilitating the vaccination process. Countries that use the platform to prepare for shipments and manage inventory can more easily organise the storage, transportation, distribution, community reach, and training of healthcare professionals.
It has also helped to reduce the amount of misinformation associated with vaccine distribution. “Having access to information is always one of those things that help build trust,” says Dorcas Noertoft, senior contract manager for Unicef's procurement division. “Since there is confidence, everyone has the feeling of working towards the same goal.”