The United States Agency for International Development has allocated an additional $9.5 million to the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs to continue its work promoting COVID-19 vaccine uptake and acceptance in nine countries in Asia and Africa.
The money brings the total awarded to CCP’s Breakthrough ACTION project for COVID-19 work during the pandemic to $57 million. Since March 2020, CCP has worked in Africa, Asia and Latin America to promote COVID-19 prevention messages, and in the last year has pivoted to helping countries increase COVID-19 vaccination rates by generating greater demand for shots.
“We will continue working with our partners and stakeholders to focus on getting newly delivered vaccines into the arms of as many people as they can,” says CCP’s Deputy Director Alice Payne Merritt, who oversees COVID funding at the center.
Merritt says much of the new funding will allow for special attention to be paid to vulnerable people such as school-aged children, older youths and the elderly, especially in countries that have not yet had full access to vaccine.
The new award will go to Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal and the Philippines. Two million dollars has also been earmarked for “surge support,” in which missions can request additional technical support to help with continuing gaps in reaching specific audiences with vaccination.
Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has sickened more than 532 million people globally and killed more than 6.3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. According to the New York Times vaccine tracker, more than 5.17 billion people worldwide have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, roughly 67.4 percent of the world’s population. But much of Africa lags far behind, with many countries giving first doses to fewer than 20 percent of their population so far. CCP hopes its work can help improve the vaccine situation.
Some of the countries covered in the new award currently have vaccination rates in the single digits, such as Nigeria, Malawi, Senegal and Mali.
“This new funding will enable us to refine our efforts on the ground, by helping to address persistent vaccine hesitancy, an issue that remains an obstacle to higher vaccination rates,” Merritt says.