MOBS Lab has partnered with the Gates Foundation to investigate global vaccine distribution strategies
September 14, 2020

MOBS Lab Global Vaccination Technical Report

Gates Foundation 2020 Goalkeepers Report

As the pandemic spreads across the globe, the entire world eagerly awaits the discovery of a vaccine as the single antidote to the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19. Even once it is developed, the question of how to distribute the COVID vaccine remains to be one of the greatest global experiments facing this interconnected world. Many organizations are advocating for a fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine, while many of the wealthiest countries are already prepared to reserve a large number of doses. In order to investigate the effects of different approaches of the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the MOBS team was asked by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to compare two allocation strategies. In the Uncooperative allocation scenario, the first 2 billion doses of the vaccine are monopolized by the top 50 or so wealthiest countries, whereas the Cooperative allocation scenario assumes that the vaccine supplies are distributed to countries proportional to their population.

Share of globally averted deaths as of September 1st, 2020.
In this figure we report the share of averted deaths computed as one minus the ratio of the median number of worldwide deaths that occurred in the uncooperative (or cooperative) allocation scenario and the median number of deaths that occurred in the baseline (no vaccine) scenario.

MOBS team researchers use a large-scale computational transmission model (GLEAM) to study the effects of different COVID-19 vaccine allocation strategies across countries of the world. Their models estimate that there would be twice as many Covid-19 related deaths if the wealthiest countries hoard the first 2 billion vaccine doses rather than distributing them equitably. Details on the methodology and model parameters are described in detail here. Assumptions about the number of available vaccine doses, the mechanism of vaccine efficacy, and the distribution capacity are best guesses based on expert assessment and priors mostly based on flu vaccine distribution.

Schematic representation of GLEAM.
(Left) Subpopulations are geographic regions formed from the Voronoi tessellation that are centered around major urban areas and transportation hubs. They are comprised of census cells that are approximately 25km x 25km. (Right) Diagram of the origin-destination airport network (long-range mobility network), the diagram of the commuting network (short-range mobility network), and the population layer of GLEAM showing the population size of census cells.

The research has been featured in the following articles: 

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