June 22, 2022

COVID-19 Now: Updated Insights for Donors

Author National Philanthropic Trust

Last summer, NPT provided an updated list of organizations and strategies for supporting COVID-19 vaccination and prevention efforts outside the United States. Since then, much has been accomplished in the global fight against COVID-19, but there is still work to do.

High and upper middle-income countries still generally have higher vaccination rates, and there are a number of factors remaining stubbornly in the way of the world’s poorest nations gaining ground in vaccine uptake. Countries in conflict like Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen continue to face low vaccination rates (Reuters estimates about 35% of Ukraine is vaccinated). Low-income countries with poor health infrastructure are especially challenged. For example, Haiti, which last June struggled with a 0.2% vaccination rate, has barely budged to 1.16%.

Although the development and creation of the vaccine is a remarkable scientific success story, its inequitable distribution remains a sobering reminder of broader worldwide health inequality. But donors can help. According to the World Health Organization, closing the vaccine equity gap “will substantially increase population immunity globally, protect health systems, enable economies to fully restart and reduce the risk of new variants emerging.”

Many donors still want to lend their support, and to best meet that demand, it is crucial that generosity continues as the pandemic evolves. We’ve assembled some key information below on the major issues in vaccine uptake today, and how donors can continue to support ongoing global vaccination efforts.

What and where are the greatest needs related to COVID-19 today?

The most immediate need is the equitable allocation of the vaccine and infrastructural and informational support to ensure its proper distribution. Currently, vaccine manufacturers have the capacity to supply every nation on the planet with the doses they need; the pressing issue is dose allocation and solutions for the logistical and distribution problems many low- and middle-income countries face. Parts of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Central and South Asia are the regions of greatest need today. The need is particularly stark in rural and hard-to-reach regions across Africa—whereas many major cities like Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg have greater access to vaccines and higher vaccination rates.

Direct Relief, a humanitarian and medical relief organization, defines the highest-priority obstacle making global vaccination more difficult: the lack of “cold-chain” infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries makes storing the vaccine, which requires extreme refrigeration, nearly impossible. Dollars directed to Direct Relief’s COVID-19 work can fund cold-chain infrastructure improvements.

Additionally, accurate health information is crucial in the fight against COVID-19. One of the largest organizations making headway on the information front is UNICEF USA. The organization has partnered with major tech companies to deliver accurate vaccine information around the world. UNICEF’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard is also an insightful and easy-to-use tool for anyone seeking to stay up to date with the most current global vaccination figures.

How can donors best support vaccination and prevention efforts around the world? And how can they continue to help with the reverberating social ills the pandemic deepened?

By supporting organizations working to fix supply chain breaks and delays, insufficient public health infrastructure, and serve countries with large rural or remote populations, donors can help address some of the most acute needs today. Others may wish to support relief from the continued social and economic costs of the pandemic by granting to organizations led by and serving women. Both strategies can go beyond COVID-19 response to help improve general health infrastructure, provide basic healthcare and build preparedness and resilience for future outbreaks.

Last Mile Health, an organization working on healthcare delivery and logistics in rural areas of Africa, has been working to train and prepare healthcare workers to identify and treat COVID-19 and administer vaccines in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone. VillageReach has been coordinating vaccine delivery, logistics support and crucial health information in Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Mozambique. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy still has an active COVID-19 fund, and has additional guidance and research on funding long-term recovery.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness* was founded in 2015 during the West African Ebola outbreak as an effort to study and prevent emerging infectious diseases. The Norway-based organization is partnering with Institut Pasteur de Dakar to create regional vaccine manufacturing capacity in Senegal.

Because women bear so many of the social and economic costs of COVID, their wellbeing is essential for a just recovery. The Global Fund for Women has a dedicated Crisis Fund that directs funding to grassroots response organizations serving women across sixty countries. MADRE, an international feminist humanitarian agency, is continuing to address COVID and other disasters with its Care in Crisis grantmaking strategies.

Philanthropy’s contribution to a truly global recovery from the pandemic depends on donor commitment, flexibility and resilience in the long-term. For donors interested in reviewing their grantmaking strategies, NPT remains ready to help you help others. Contact us at (888) 878-7900 or npt@nptrust.org with any questions.

About the Author

Joan Allmaras is a Philanthropic Solutions Specialist at NPT. She produces tailored, in-depth research on specific issues and geographic areas of interest to NPT’s donors. Ms. Allmaras holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.