On the 4th of June, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be contributing £330m a year over the next five years (£1.65 billion)  to aid the ‘continuity and development’ of the International vaccination programme, adding that ‘together, we can reach our common goals.’

Johnson was speaking at The Global Vaccine Summit 2020, a conference established to celebrate the success of GAVI, to identify and discuss challenges and to garner further funding commitments.

The conference, which convened virtually, generated global pledges worth an incredible $8.8 billion, far exceeding the target of US$ 7.4 billion. Hosted by the UK Government, The Global Vaccine Summit has a remit to protect the next generation with vaccines, to reduce disease inequality, and to create a healthier, safer and more prosperous world. Understandably, this year’s session was heavily influenced by the impacts of COVID-19.

The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted routine vaccination programmes across the world, with GAVI estimating that approximately 80 million children will be affected across at least 68 countries.

Naturally, this figure has led to concern that a resurgence of deadly diseases could be seen in the developing nations, and to that end, The Global Vaccine Summit included a special focus on maintaining care throughout the pandemic. The summit’s organisers write that by increasing resources, ‘we will be able to sustain health systems so that countries are ready to rapidly introduce COVID-19 vaccines; and by 2025 we will have immunised more than 1.1 billion children, saving 22 million lives.’

The conference welcomed esteemed speakers such as Bill Gates, Co-Chair of Bill Gates Foundation, H.E. Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and H.E. Roch Marc Christian Kabore, President of Burkina Faso. Topics for discussion included ’Reaching those who need it most’, ‘The development of COVID-19 vaccines’, and saliently, ‘The race for an Ebola vaccine’.

Sadly, Ebola has been in the news again over the last few weeks, with a newly confirmed outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the 2nd of June, The WHO confirmed that six live cases and four deaths near Mbandaka were due to the virulent disease. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that, ‘this is a reminder that COVID-19 is not the only health threat people face’ and added that coronavirus and measles are also on the rise in the region, with measles being responsible for more Congolese deaths than Ebola and coronavirus combined.

The WHO confirmed that there had been 369,520 measles cases and 6,779 deaths in the DRC since 2019, providing stark concrete statistics as to why the global vaccination programme must not be allowed to slip out of focus. With Coronavirus spreading through the developing nations, and vaccination schedules being disrupted, the consequences could be devastating. On Congo, Anne-Mari Connor, National-Director in Congo for the aid organisation World Vision, writes that, ‘this [combined] threat could prove lethal for millions of children and their families.

We know that with cold-chain technology like our solar powered vaccine refrigerators, people simply do not have to suffer the ravages that these diseases bring, and it is therefore so important to continue to support the great work that Gavi has coordinated.

We have a long history of working with NGO’s like Gavi and through our nearly 40-year history, have always aimed to reach the last mile with our vaccine and blood storage cold chain solutions.

Equitable access to healthcare provision is fundamental, and the announcements coming from the Global Vaccine Summit will ensure a hopeful future for millions of people.

The event’s organisers write that ‘we move further and faster when we move together.’ Dulas stands with that collective endeavour, and with Gavi. At the time of writing, Dulas’ teams are active in multiple outbreak zones all over the world, and we are preparing, once again, to work with our international partners to meet their vaccine storage requirements and get life-saving equipment to where it is needed most.