This blog aims to situate Shot@Life’s work in the context of COVID-19 and to reveal how the outbreak intersects with our issues and the work of our global health partners.
Global health security: Diseases do not respect borders. Cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed on every continent. U.S.-funded programs that help prevent and detect outbreaks overseas protect Americans at home and abroad by enabling other nations to effectively respond to global health crises at their source.
Health systems strengthening: Strong health systems remain critical to global preparedness for disease outbreaks. Investing in routine immunization, primary health care, and community health workers bolsters a nation’s ability to handle both common illnesses and unanticipated health concerns like the emergence of novel pathogens.
Protecting vulnerable populations: Those most at risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 are older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions. The stress many feel in the midst of this outbreak is not so different from the day-to-day stress medically vulnerable people feel when we fail to achieve population-wide immunity for vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.
The work of our partners: Combating a pandemic requires extensive international collaboration and coordination. Partnerships that Shot@Life supports, including the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and the Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI), have helped establish the public health infrastructure necessary to detect and respond to emerging diseases around the world.
The work of the World Health Organization: The WHO is working closely with country governments and UN agencies to contain the outbreak and to provide the public with accurate information. WHO is also harnessing its international network of laboratories for disease detection and testing. Shot@Life continues to support WHO through advocacy work and direct grants.
Emergency supplemental funding: Congress has authorized $8.3 billion toward treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19. The bill includes funding for the development and manufacturing of vaccines. The money will be distributed between the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, USAID, the Department of State, and state and local governments.
Vaccines are the solution: Although likely a year away from being available to the public, a coronavirus vaccine will provide the best line of defense against the disease. However, developing a vaccine that is safe and effective takes time and investment. The ongoing outbreak underscores the need for robust funding for vaccine research and procurement, the kind of CDC and USAID funding Shot@Life routinely advocates for during appropriations season.