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Skoll Foundation Funds Sabin Vaccine Institute, Dalberg and JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. to Establish COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) today announced that it has partnered with Dalberg and JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) to create the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project (vaccineequity.org). This collaboration will support low- and middle-income country immunization professionals in leading the equitable delivery of COVID-19 vaccines through their national immunization programs and complements the approach outlined in the COVAX Facility, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) led by the World Health Organization (WHO); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi); and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

The Skoll Foundation is supporting the creation of the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project through start-up funding of $1 million to pilot the program in four countries. Following a successful pilot, the partners hope to secure additional funding to scale the project to more than 40 countries starting in 2021.

As COVID-19 vaccine developers generate clinical evidence of safety and effectiveness needed for vaccine approval, this project will help prepare for the efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines globally by ensuring that national immunization programs have the resources and health systems in place to achieve sustainable global protection from COVID-19 by 2022 and strengthen capacity for vaccination across the life span.

This project leverages the three partners’ global reach and decades of experience in immunization systems strengthening to facilitate national planning. Sabin builds on more than 20 years promoting equitable vaccine access through its programming, particularly the Boost Community; the collaborative and engaged network of more than 1,000 immunization professionals from more than 115 countries across the world. The Boost Community will invite its members to participate in an advisory group and interactive discussions for the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project in order to ensure that they are closely involved in decision making. The Dalberg team leverages its data capabilities, patient-centered approach and extensive experience assisting countries’ response efforts. Dalberg provided support to Emergency Operation Centers during the 2013-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and is currently tapping into its vast global network, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Africa, to strengthen COVID-19 response efforts. Finally, JSI provides the technical support and strategic planning needed to scale the project for global impact, leveraging the organization’s presence in more than 45 countries and deep experience assisting countries in introducing new vaccines and strengthening existing immunization programs.

“Vaccines don’t deliver themselves. Their ability to control the pandemic will depend on the strength of vaccination programs and ultimately, on the dedicated personnel who will lead these programs,” said Dr. Bruce Gellin, president of Global Immunization at Sabin. “Connecting global experts with immunization professionals who are leading on the frontlines, will provide the much needed two-way flow of data, insights and information to inform equitable vaccine delivery. We are grateful to the Skoll Foundation for recognizing the critical role immunization professionals will play in helping the world overcome this pandemic.”

The COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project will comprise three phases designed to rapidly assess vaccine distribution landscape, maximize learnings and scale a successful pilot to enable equitable global delivery of vaccines. The Skoll Foundation is funding Phases 1 and 2. In Phase 1 (“Plan”), the group will collaborate with Sabin’s Boost Community members to coordinate with ACT-A and select the four countries in which to pilot the project. In Phase 2 (“Pilot”), all three partners will work hand-in-hand with national and subnational immunization professionals to analyze the pilot countries’ needs regarding vaccine financing, procurement and distribution; leading to the creation of tailored action plans for equitable delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. As additional funders join the project, these action plans will serve as a blueprint for Phase 3, in which a successful pilot will be scaled to more than 40 countries and expanded beyond COVID-19 vaccines to strengthen life-course immunization; an approach that prioritizes timely and effective vaccination throughout the lifespan.

“Lessons learned from previous pandemic response efforts, such as those for Ebola and H1N1, show us that one of the most effective, efficient and equitable ways to serve population needs and save lives is to take a community-centered approach and mobilize country support beyond procurement,” said Edwin Macharia, global managing partner at Dalberg. “Dalberg is energized to join this core team alongside Sabin and JSI to develop vaccine strategies using a people-centered approach and move the needle closer to a more inclusive and sustainable world.”

“This project aligns with JSI’s guiding mission to build stronger health systems to improve health outcomes for all,” said Lora Shimp, technical director at JSI’s Immunization Center. “Vaccines are a gateway to health equity and a tool to relieve a burden on stretched health systems by ensuring populations are protected against deadly or life-altering diseases. The JSI team looks forward to leveraging the technical capacity of the Immunization Center to ensure the successful scale up of this vaccine equity program across the globe.”

Phases of the project will accelerate equitable distribution now, before a vaccine arrives, to ensure that it reaches the most vulnerable among us when one becomes available. No one is safe from the virus until everyone is safe.

About the Sabin Vaccine Institute
The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a non-profit with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, regardless of who they are or where they live. At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world. For more information, visit www.sabin.org and follow us on Twitter, @SabinVaccine.

About Dalberg
Dalberg is a leading social impact advisory group that brings together strategy consulting, design thinking, big data analytics, investment, and research to address complex social and environmental challenges. We work collaboratively with communities, institutions, governments, and corporations to develop solutions that create impact at scale and build a more inclusive and sustainable world where all people, everywhere, can reach their fullest potential.

About John Snow Research & Training Institute, Inc.
JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is a nonprofit global public health consulting and research organization and a global leader in strengthening routine immunization systems as well as new vaccine introductions. JSI is dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities throughout the world. Our mission is to improve the health of underserved people and communities and to provide a place where people of passion and commitment can pursue this cause.

About the Skoll Foundation
The Skoll Foundation catalyzes transformational social change by investing in, connecting, and championing social entrepreneurs and other change leaders who together advance equitable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

Jeff Skoll, the first employee and first President of eBay, created the Skoll Foundation in 1999 to pursue his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity for all. The Skoll Foundation is part of the Jeff Skoll Group, which also includes Participant and the Capricorn Investment Group. The Foundation is led by CEO Don Gips.

The Skoll Foundation is at an exciting inflection point in its two-decade long history. With equity at the center of an evolving strategy that extends beyond its traditional focus on social entrepreneurship, the Foundation aspires to fundamentally shift the trajectory on urgent global problems including pandemics and global health systems, racial justice, climate change, effective governance, and inclusive economies. The Foundation does this by connecting social entrepreneurs and other change leaders around the world, investing in their solutions, and championing their work.

Learn more at skoll.org.

Media Contact:
Samia Kemal
Sabin Vaccine Institute
+1 (202) 621-1691
press@sabin.org