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Improving Covid-19 vaccine coverage by mitigating corruption risks in the supply chain

How to ensure that vaccines and development assistance benefit those who need them most.
20 June 2022
U4's creative, two-minute videos bring a clear view to a complex analysis of how corruption prolongs the pandemic and what can be done about it.

Corruption reduces effective vaccine distribution

Vaccine development and deployment has been riddled with various challenges, including low public trust and misinformation, resource shortages, mismanagement of supply chains, and lack of solidarity.

Corruption may further reduce effective vaccine distribution by creating opportunities for manufacturers to create substandard vaccines. Through corruption, public officials give contracts to companies they have connections with, and people with power use their influence to jump the vaccination queue. Vaccine certificate fraud is on the rise, putting the public in danger.

These challenges have hampered the vaccines’ potential to contain the pandemic and may have contributed to more variants of the virus appearing.

Knowing the risks – video 1

From the start of the vaccine deployment, development agencies knew they needed to address corruption risks as part of their vaccine distribution support in low- and middle-income countries. At U4, we offer research and practical guidance to help strengthen anti-corruption efforts during a pandemic. To know the risks is the first step towards fixing them:

Corruption risks in the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain

Credit: CMI-U4 by-nc-nd

No one could predict the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Pandemic preparedness and responses were not well-established in most countries, and there was no previous experience of coordinating efforts globally for a worldwide emergency. States promised to work together, yet once pharmaceutical companies started developing vaccines, countries put their interests first – above the common good – which worsened the crisis.

Safeguarding vaccine supplies –video 2

Possible ways to avoid corruption and improve vaccine coverage include:

  • Specialised task forces to oversee vaccine roll-out.
  • Engage civil society to curb abuse of power.
  • Publicly available information about vaccine allocation.
  • Responsive and inclusive whistleblowing mechanisms.

These measures are just a few of all measures that can be used to safeguard vaccine supply chains and ensure development assistance benefits those most in need:

Mitigation strategies for corruption in the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain

Credit: CMI-U4 by-nc-nd

You can access more resources on the U4 topic page on Covid-19 and corruption.

    About the authors

    Daniela Cepeda Cuadrado

    Daniela Cepeda Cuadrado is a U4 anti-corruption adviser, working with donor agencies and multilateral organisations to mainstream anti-corruption efforts in the health sector. Daniela is a policy analyst and researcher with experience working with UN agencies, civil society, and academia in the fields of anti-corruption, health, and sustainable development.

    Daniel Sejerøe Hausenkamph

    Daniel Sejerøe Hausenkamph is a U4 adviser and public health professional with an interest in anti-corruption, health systems, and digitalisation.


    All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

    This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


    Covid-19, vaccine