Go Give One: Campaigning for COVID-19 Vaccine Equity

COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Americas via COVAX

by Anil Soni, CEO, WHO Foundation

In January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency, and in just weeks that novel virus became a global pandemic. This pandemic became a defining phenomenon of our time. With over 750 million reported infections, 7 million confirmed deaths, and estimated deaths exceeding 20 million people in just three years, COVID-19 has impacted not only our understanding of global health, but our economies, our politics and our sense of community and security.

Preparing for the development of a vaccine to fight COVID-19 – and planning for equitable delivery of this life-saving intervention around the world – Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and the Center for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) created COVAX, a facility for the procurement and distribution of vaccines around the world.

Stepping up for vaccine equity

In December of that same year, the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered; and COVAX stepped in to play its part. To support this partnership and highlight the need for vaccine equity, the WHO Foundation launched the Go Give One campaign in April 2021. The campaign was based on a simple principle: giving US$5 to purchase a vaccine for someone in need.

“It was amazing to see so many individuals and institutions from around the world, and across sectors, step up to the challenge. We were proud to stand alongside global companies and foundations who supported the campaign.”

Meta promoted it on Facebook and thousands of users donated. Salesforce challenged a group of companies – the Pledge 1% Coalition – to invite their employees to give to the campaign. Collinson, a travel company, featured the campaign at COVID-19 testing sites in airports around the world, and organized other travel companies, including Virgin Atlantic, to participate. ELMA Philanthropies matched individual contributions for four months and supported Entertain Impact to provide pro bono marketing support. WPP did likewise, promoting the campaign with their clients.

“Thanks to this generous support, Go Give One raised over US$19 million to support COVAX and the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to people in low- and middle-income countries.”

In May 2023, the WHO Director-General declared an end to the global emergency of COVID-19. Since mid-2022, the number of infections and deaths has been decreasing thanks to growing immunity from vaccination and previous infections, easing prolonged strain on health systems. As a result, Gavi is now shutting down the COVAX facility and delivering COVID-19 vaccines as part of its routine immunization programs.

In turn, we at the WHO Foundation are now retiring the Go Give One campaign. As we do, it is humbling to reflect on all that we were able to achieve together. I encourage you to read through the 2022 Go Give One Annual Report which celebrates the work of the unique partnerships supported by this campaign.

Partnerships that challenge status quo

While COVID-19 is no longer the threat it once was, the effects of the pandemic are far from over and profound health inequities remain. At the WHO Foundation, we share a vision of a world where everyone everywhere is free to live a happy and healthy life.

We are committed to being in the vanguard, to have the courage to take on some of the most systemic global health inequities, and to initiate and nurture partnerships that challenge the status quo.

“This vision, like the Go Give One campaign, is impossible to achieve withut our community of partners, like you! Whether you are just learning about the WHO Foundation now or you’re a longstanding supporter, we invite you to join us on the road ahead to ensuring that everyone, everywhere is able to access quality healthcare.”

Thank you for your support and solidarity.

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