Advancing Human Security and Community Resilience

Focus Area: Pandemic Security

Community Pandemic Innovation Lab

15 November 2021

Protecting Vulnerable Populations is Critical for Recovery and Future Pandemic Preparedness

Vulnerable communities such as migrant workers and refugees have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been left out of the ongoing response to the pandemic highlighting an ethical failure of global proportions. It is in our moral and pragmatic interests that these vulnerable groups are engaged and solutions on how best to protect them are shared and scaled to prevent continued transmission of the virus, which leaves everyone at risk, and to better manage future disease outbreaks.

Community Solutions during the Pandemic

During the pandemic, members from vulnerable communities came together and developed on the ground social innovations using limited resources to support each other. For example, in Thailand, community led efforts helped solve healthcare access problems amongst the most marginalised groups leading to greater community testing and vaccine delivery, while in Uganda, community based interventions allowed people living with HIV to have continued access to treatment and drugs during lockdowns. Similarly, in the United States, American Indians who were adversely impacted by COVID-19 identified innovative ways to distribute food and medicine. Leveraging their own strengths as a community, and with additional support from philanthropy, businesses, and academia, they were part of the first COVID vaccination trials and have gone on to have the highest vaccination rate of any ethnic group in the country.

Development of the Global Community Pandemic Innovation Lab

The varied responses by countries during the COVID-19 pandemic have shown a real need for a mechanism that facilitates dissemination and the adopting of best practices in real time for better response, continuous learning and improvement. Through this Call to Action, Johns Hopkins seeks to develop a Global Community Pandemic Innovation Lab with the aim to reduce societal vulnerabilities through the sharing of accumulated learnings and scaling of successful approaches to empower local and national leaders to protect and build trust among communities for better pandemic security. This will be done by building networks of communities that are working together with governments, businesses, and philanthropies. These networks will learn from one another to leverage community pandemic solutions to serve the most vulnerable and build resilience in communities.