New tool assesses which countries need COVID-19 vaccines the most

A new scoring tool that helps to ‘transparently’ prioritise which countries are in greatest need of Covid-19 vaccines, has been developed by a UCL-led team of researchers.

The researchers say the tool considers a far wider range of factors than the current global COVAX facility, which has been criticised by some countries, particularly poorer nations for insufficient access and a lack of flexibility to response to local rapid rises in infections. The study, published in BMC Public Health, asked 28 experts from 13 different countries, what they thought were the most important factors for assessing countries’ needs for vaccines.

The group of experts, who included individuals based at universities and national public health institutes from countries including the UK, Japan, Kenya, Norway and South Africa, regarded the most important consideration when deciding where vaccines were needed was the proportion of the overall population who were not fully vaccinated.

Other important factors included the proportion of high-risk population not fully vaccinated, health system capacity, capacity to purchase vaccines, and the proportion of the population who are classed as clinically vulnerable.

These important factors were then included in a choice task to determine how each factor should be weighted, in order to create a scoring tool.

It is hoped that the scoring tool will be able to make the process of allocating the Covid-19 vaccines across the globe fairer — by being explicit in the criteria used to identify needs and transparent about how the factors were identified and the evidence-based process used to derive the tool.

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