COVAX COVID-19 Vaccinations Underway in West Africa

March 1, 2021

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A brass band played outside the Treichville vaccination center in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire on March 1, 2021, as health care and frontline workers filed in to become some of the first people in the world to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped from the COVAX Facility, a multilateral initiative established to ensure equitable vaccine distribution worldwide. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner


The week prior, 600,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were delivered to Ghana and 504,000 doses arrived in Côte d'Ivoire, marking the start of what will be the largest, fastest and most complex global vacine rollout in history. In total, COVAX aims to deliver 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021, including at least 1.2 billion to the 92 countries eligible for support through the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC), the mechanism to provide donor-funded vaccines to lower-income countries, including Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.



“The last year has been a dark one for families all over the world, but the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines provided a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "Today, the COVAX Facility begins to make good on its promise to make sure that light shines for all.”



UNICEF was chosen to lead on procurement, freight, logistics and storage for COVAX because UNICEF already procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunizations and outbreak response, reaching 45 percent of the world's children under 5 every year. Above, UNICEF supply officer Mohamadou Sy helped coordinate delivery of COVID-19 vaccine doses at the airport in Abidjan on February 26, 2021. 



Above, health worker Dagnoko Salimata was among those vaccinated at the Treichville vaccination center in Abidjan. 



Health worker Phénix Azian pulls back his sleeve to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Côte d’Ivoire on March 1, 2021.


"This is a day many of us have been dreaming of and working for more than 12 months," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "It's gratifying to see the fruit of that labor. But success is still to come. This is only the beginning of what COVAX was set up to achieve. We have a lot left to do to realize our vision to start vaccination in all countries within the first 100 days of the year. There are just 40 days left."


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Top photo: A health worker receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the Treichville vaccination center in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire on March 1, 2021. The vaccine doses were supplied by the COVAX Facility — a multilateral initiative established to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide — marking the start of the largest, fastest, most complex vaccination campaign in history. All photos © Miléquêm Diarassouba for UNICEF