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Epic COVAX COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Continues
The race to end the pandemic is on, and UNICEF is playing a vital role in the equitable global distribution of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.
Between March 4 and March 9, planes carrying COVID-19 vaccine doses touched down in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Uganda, adding to the growing list of countries that have received vaccine deliveries through the COVAX Facility since the first shipment arrived in Ghana on Feb. 24. In the past two weeks, more than 15 million vaccine doses have reached around 35 countries. Initial doses will be used to protect health care and frontline workers and other high-risk individuals.
The COVAX Facility — a multilateral initiative 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, leading on procurement and supply — aims to provide 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 1.2 billion doses to low- and middle-income countries, by the end of 2021. It will be the largest, fastest and most complex vaccination campaign in history.
On March 5, UNICEF Representative in Malawi Rudolf Schwenk, left, and UNICEF Malawi Chief of Health Tedla Damte approach the plane holding Malawi's first batch of COVID-19 vaccines procured via the COVAX Facility. Malawi received 36,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine shipped from the Serum Institute of India in Mumbai. Malawi has also received 360,000 syringes and 3,625 safety boxes for the safe disposal of used syringes through COVAX. An additional 2.1 million syringes and 21,600 safety boxes have been dispatched by sea to arrive in mid-March.
On March 8, at Soekarno Hatta Airport Cargo Terminal, Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia, Supply Associate Suparlan Wiyono checks the arrival of the country's first batch of COVAX vaccines. The initial shipment included 1,113,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, out of a total of 11,704,800 doses that have been allocated to Indonesia to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
On March 9, Tajikistan became the first country in Central Asia to receive COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX. Above, workers unload boxes containing 192,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Dushanbe.
On March 8, U.N. Resident Coordinator Myrta Kaulard, left, and UNICEF Representative in Mozambique Maria Luisa Fornara meet the first COVAX shipment of nearly 384,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine upon arrival in Maputo. Another 2.4 million doses are expected to reach the country by the end of May. “The vaccine arrival today plants hope into all of us that soon we will be able to bring this suffering to an end," said Fornara. "It is the light at the end of the tunnel. And the idea behind the COVAX facility is that this light at the end of the tunnel must shine for all.”
Afghanistan's first COVAX consignment of 468,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in Kabul on March 8. The vaccines will protect teachers and university staff from the novel coronavirus. Above, UNICEF Afghanistan Immunization Manager Sanjay Bhardwaj, left, and UNICEF Afghanistan Chief of Communication Sam Mort inspect the shipment at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
On March 4, the Republic of Moldova became the first country in Europe to receive vaccines from the COVAX Facility. "Vaccines are among the greatest advances of modern medicine," said Maha Damaj, UNICEF Representative in Moldova, above at microphone, next to the President of Moldova, Maia Sandu, far right. "Sustainable supply of [COVID-19] vaccines is the only way out of this crisis, to ensure that vaccination is available for all," Damaj said. Moldova received 14,400 vaccine doses, the first installment of an expected delivery of 24,570 Pfizer vaccine doses and up to 264,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in 2021.
On March 5, at Modibo Keita International Airport in Bamako, UNICEF Representative in Mali Sylvie Fouet, left, and WHO Representative in Mali Dr. Jean Pierre Baptiste celebrate the arrival of Mali's first shipment of 396,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines procured by COVAX. A total of about 1.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be delivered to Mali before the end of 2021.
“We have equipped 251 community health centers in the districts with solar-powered refrigerators, and an additional 288 fridges are expected to arrive soon in the country," Fouet said, crediting the assistance of technical and financial partners. “Vaccines are lifesaving. No one is safe until everyone is safe."
A National Drug Authority (NDA) staff member cross-checks boxes of COVID-19 vaccines at Entebbe International Airport in Kampala. Uganda received its first consignment of 864,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX Facility on March 5.
On March 4, more than 480,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the Philippines via the COVAX Facility. By March 6, vaccinations were underway. Above, a health worker receives the COVID-19 vaccine in San Juan City, Metro Manila.
On March 7, an elderly man covers his eyes as he receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Kalyanpur Primary Health Care Center, located in Saptari District, in Nepal's southern plains. Earlier that same day, Nepal received its first COVAX shipment of 48,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, along with 350,000 syringes and 3,500 vaccine safety boxes. The country is slated to receive 1.92 million doses by the end of May, enough to vaccinate 20 percent of the population.
"We are talking about vaccines as a vial with medicine, but really it's about people," said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, U.N. Resident Coordinator in Nepal. "It's about the number of people who will be reached with services, the number of people who will have increased immunity against COVID-19."
To track global COVID-19 vaccine deliveries through the COVAX Facility, visit the interactive UNICEF COVID-19 Vaccine Market Dashboard.
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Top photo: On March 7, Ethiopia received 2.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine via the COVAX Facility. © UNICEF/UN0426742/Tesfaye