Coordinating COVID-19 vaccine deployment through the WHO COVID-19 Partners Platform

Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Volume 99, Number 3, March 2021, 169-240


Coordinating COVID-19 vaccine deployment through the WHO COVID-19 Partners Platform
— M Anne Yu, Angela K Shen, Michael J Ryan & Linda Lucy Boulanger
…WHO, in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) Development Coordination Office, launched the WHO COVID-19 Partners Platform to operationalize the plan.6 On this platform, for the first time, governments, UN agencies and partners can plan and coordinate, in real time, for an acute event. This innovative digital ecosystem operationalizes the nine pillars of the plan: country-level coordination, planning and monitoring; risk communication and community engagement; surveillance, rapid-response teams and case investigation; points of entry, international travel and transport; national laboratories; infection prevention and control; case management; operational support and logistics; and maintaining essential health services and systems.

The platform has facilitated actions within these initial nine strategic pillars and continues to do so.6 As a tool for emergency management, the platform supports transparency, collaboration and efficiency for countries, UN agencies, implementing partners and donors in their COVID-19 response. At the core of the platform is a centralized digital environment where countries and partners, in the context of an outbreak, can: (i) develop and share plans; (ii) monitor and review implemented actions; (iii) cost plans, share resource needs, and request critical supplies; and (iv) view and track donor contributions. These four basic functionalities are fundamental to emergency response in every nation, regardless of whether resources come from the international community or are domestically available.

As of 4 February 2021, the platform has tracked 9.3 billion United States dollars (US$) of requested resources and approximately US$ 8 billion in donor contributions.6 A total of 120 countries, areas and territories have integrated the platform into their emergency management cycle (disease prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery), supporting preparedness and response using a model that optimizes near real-time management of public health emergency needs and demands. The platform allows for rapid response in public health practice, provides a centralized hub to house information for decision-making, and brings stakeholders from across sectors within countries, including donors and key implementing partners, to collaborate using a common planning framework. The platform is accessible to and enabled by countries, regions and partners, and governed by the countries, who determine how to support their own needs.

Coordination is at the centre of the platform and critical to an effective response. In January 2021, a tenth pillar was added to the platform to support national deployment of COVID-19 vaccines when available…