The COVID-19 pandemic is placing an unprecedented strain on the whole world. The EU has been leading international efforts in response to the pandemic, including vaccination.
As stated by European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, “no one is safe until everyone is safe”. That is why, in early 2021, the EU launched a humanitarian initiative to ensure that vaccines against COVID-19 would reach the most vulnerable populations living on the African continent.
A global pandemic requires a global solution. Therefore, the European Commission is committed to ensuring universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, including fragile and conflict settings.
In this context, acting together helps us protect more lives and relieve the already-stretched healthcare systems and workers.
Since the early days of COVID-19, the EU, its Member States, and European financial institutions came together as Team Europe to provide support in the fight against the pandemic.
So far, the EU global response to the COVID-19 pandemic amounts to €46 billion from Team Europe. This funding:
- provides emergency response to humanitarian needs
- strengthens health systems and crucial health services
- assists economic recovery and social support.
Team Europe is also one of the leading donors of the COVAX Facility, a global initiative aimed at ensuring equitable and fair access to COVID-19 vaccines to populations all over the world.
In February 2021, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced an additional €100 million in EU humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in Africa, in cooperation with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
Given its humanitarian nature, the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations manage this additional funding to ensure that no one is left behind.
As stated by Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, “ensuring equitable access to vaccines for vulnerable people, including in conflict-affected or hard-to-access areas, is a moral duty”.
This EU humanitarian initiative supporting the vaccination campaigns in Africa is implemented via 2 complementary tracks:
- The first track (with an allocation of €35 million) supports the rollout of the vaccination campaign in African countries. This includes building capacity of the national health systems, managing information on vaccination, and addressing critical logistical gaps.
The approach supports public health actors, including the Africa CDC, and, in the longer term, seeks to reinforce national health systems’ resilience to address future epidemic outbreaks.
- The second track (with a current allocation of €60 million) supports the rollout of vaccination campaigns in specific humanitarian settings,notably in conflict and hard-to-reach areas. It is implemented closely with EU humanitarian partners through specific activities to support vaccination campaigns and create vaccine demand.
Remaining funding is reserved for future emergency needs.
This strong EU partnership with leading agencies, like the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and humanitarian partners in the field:
- facilitates the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns
- ensures that the necessary technical expertise is in place
- increases capacity and resilience for future health emergencies.
The EU and its Member States have been at the forefront of many COVID-19 response initiatives. Team Europe remains a leading donor of the COVAX Facility with over €3 billion in funding to help secure access to fully donor-funded doses for 92 lower-income economies.
The EU is also providing €10 million to support the COVAX Humanitarian Buffer to secure in-country operational/delivery costs. The aim is to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines by vulnerable populations who, for valid reasons, were not included in national vaccine deployment plans.
In February 2022, President von der Leyen announced an additional support package of €125 million to help boost vaccination in Africa. Also, in the framework of the Global Gateway, the EU is working with partners in Africa to prioritise the security of supply chains and develop local manufacturing capacities.
Additional support is available via the EU vaccine-sharing mechanism and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Over 34 million vaccine doses have been shared so far, including with African countries.
EU countries and Participating States in the Mechanism continue to show their solidarity and provide in-kind and technical assistance. From the onset of the pandemic until November 2021, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has responded to 91 requests for assistance for personal protective or medical equipment, diagnostic tests, medical teams, medicines and vaccines.
To overcome logistical challenges caused by COVID-19, the EU continues its Humanitarian Air Bridge that supported over 20 countries in four continents in 2020. In addition, the EU Humanitarian Aid Flight remains available to ensure that vaccines arrive in hard to reach and conflict areas.
Facts & figures
The EU has supported vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, EU funding supports the rollout of routine childhood immunisations.
The EU is supporting the COVID-19 vaccination in Sierra Leone and Liberia, including the most isolated areas.
In the village of Thambani, in the southwestern town of Mwanza in Malawi, Chief Chimlango has taken action to help promote COVID-19 vaccinations.
In Niger, 28% of adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A 7th COVID-19 vaccination campaign, launched in mid-October, aims to vaccinate 2/3 of the over-18 population by year’s end.
For over a decade, armed conflict in the Northeastern Nigeria has caused massive population displacements and hindered basic access to essential services. As a result, humanitarian needs are deepening, with over 8 million people in need.
The COVID-19 pandemic placed an unprecedent burden on the whole world – but this was especially true of people in hard-to-reach areas, the displaced, those living in a fragile context.
News and related information
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- Donors making a difference: Funding a range of lifesaving immunisation for people of all ages
- Data management reinforces COVID-19 vaccination in Mozambique
- Increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Liberia
- The EU supports WHO for tackling COVID-19 in Africa
- Donors making a difference: The European Union teams up with WHO to boost COVID-19 vaccination coverage in Africa
- Keeping distance defied health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Boosting vaccinations among African populations suffering humanitarian crises: a WHO/EU partnership