COVAX global Covid vaccine program secures nearly 2 billion doses as UNICEF prepares for distribution

A pharmacist prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at UCI Medical Center in Orange, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020.

Bing Guan| Bloomberg | Getty Images

The global alliance aiming to supply poor nations with coronavirus vaccines mentioned Friday it has provide agreements to supply nearly 2 billion doses and will start delivery them out within the first quarter as soon as accepted.

There are 190 international locations and territories collaborating in COVAX, which is co-led by the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation. The facility mentioned it was in a position to safe the doses by further provide agreements with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

COVAX mentioned it is planning for preliminary deliveries to start within the first quarter of 2021 if the medicine are accepted. There must be sufficient doses delivered within the first half of subsequent yr to guard well being and social care staff within the collaborating economies, the alliance mentioned. COVAX plans to ship not less than 1.3 billion doses to 92 international locations, that are all low- and lower-middle-income, collaborating within the facility by some level subsequent yr.

“The arrival of vaccines is giving all of us a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, mentioned in an announcement. “But we will only truly end the pandemic if we end it everywhere at the same time, which means it’s essential to vaccinate some people in all countries, rather than all people in some countries.”

Meanwhile, UNICEF on Friday mentioned it may ship as much as 850 tons of Covid-19 vaccines monthly for middle- to-low earnings international locations subsequent yr. Commercial airways will be capable of ship the vaccines to nearly all the 92 international locations collaborating within the COVAX, UNICEF mentioned in an announcement.

The United Nations Children’s Fund is an company of the United Nations that gives humanitarian support to kids worldwide. UNICEF will work alongside the Pan-American Health Organization, or PAHO, to coordinate vaccine procurements and assist ship the doses, in response to Gavi.

The humanitarian group mentioned that the photographs will possible be shipped primarily by present passenger and cargo flights, although some constitution flights or various transportation strategies will probably be wanted for hard-to-reach international locations.

However, the world’s poorest international locations nonetheless face a $133 million funds gap for distributing and storing the doses, UNICEF mentioned. The airline deliveries would have an estimated price of as much as $70 million, in response to the group, which assessed global airfreight capability and transport routes.

Countries will face further challenges as soon as the doses arrive, UNICEF mentioned.

The temperature necessities for the vaccines being developed vary and would require cold-chain provide strains, educated medical personnel and stronger outreach efforts, mentioned Henrietta Fore, government director at UNICEF, in an announcement launched on Friday.

“This is a mammoth and historic undertaking,” Fore mentioned in an announcement. “The scale of the task is daunting, and the stakes have never been higher, but we are ready to take this on.”

UNICEF mentioned it is going to want $410 million to assist international locations ship the vaccines and purchase therapeutic medicine and diagnostic instruments subsequent yr. Funding has been a difficulty for the COVAX facility, which faces a “very high” threat of failure due to lack of cash, provide dangers and sophisticated contract agreements, in response to a Reuters report from Wednesday, citing inside paperwork.

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