Academic Minute Podcast

Deena Burris, University of North Carolina Asheville – Funding Global COVID-19 Vaccines Through Bond Issuances

It’s easy to get a COVID vaccine in the U.S., but how about elsewhere?

Deena Burris, associate professor of management at the University of North Carolina Asheville, examines the process who gets access.

Dr. Deena Burris is a tenured Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She received a Ph.D. in International Development from the University of Southern Mississippi, an M.A. from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies, and a B.A. in Business Administration and English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research interests include development finance and equity financing for microfinance institutions. Prior to joining the faculty at UNC Asheville, Dr. Burris was a tenured faculty member at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC and was in international banking prior to academia. She enjoys traveling around the world and lives in Asheville, NC with her husband and daughters.

Funding Global COVID-19 Vaccines Through Bond Issuances


While we have all become familiar with the development and rollout of vaccines to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic, the program that makes these vaccines accessible globally to lower income countries is an important and interesting process. This program, known as the COVAX initiative, was launched in April 2020 – early in the global pandemic – and is a joint effort between three main partners to deliver COVID vaccines to people in 190 countries with the majority of those doses going to lower-income countries. COVAX is a partnership between three main organizations – CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), Gavi ( the Vaccine Alliance), and the World Health Organization,

Developing countries who don’t have the financial resources to pay for the vaccines are able to participate in the COVAX program through the COVAX AMC or Advance Market Commitment program. This program, which is coordinated by GAVI, is the financing instrument for the participation of 92 developing countries who collectively represent almost half of the world’s population

GAVI is getting the money for these AMC program doses from 3 main sources – Donors, governments, and probably the most creative and innovative way to fund the COVAX AMC is through bond issuances. Gavi has actually been using bond issuances to fund their vaccination program for about 15 years (since 2006). The most recent Gavi bond issuance in 2021 was for $1 billion USD and it was specifically earmarked for the COVAX AMC program

This access to funding incentivizes private sector vaccine manufacturers to ensure the production of enough doses for COVAX AMC economies as well as higher income countries. From a development perspective, the Gavi bond program is brilliant and is a truly innovative development financing solution!


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