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First COVID-19 Vaccines Land in Ghana: A Milestone for COVAX

February 24, 2021

As part of COVAX, UNICEF is leading efforts to equitably deliver COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination supplies to low- and middle-income countries around the world.

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A shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Ghana's capital, Accra, on February 24, part of the first wave of vaccines headed to several low- and middle-income countries through the COVAX Facility, a global initiative formed by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other partners to guarantee equitable access to vaccines. 

The COVAX Facility plans to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2021

“This is a momentous occasion, as the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines into Ghana is critical in bringing the pandemic to an end," said UNICEF Representative in Ghana Anne-Claire Dufay. "The only way out of this crisis is to ensure that vaccinations are available for all. We thank all partners that are supporting the COVAX Facility to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to all countries quickly and fairly."

The 600,000 COVAX vaccine doses sent to Ghana are part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine licensed to the Serum Institute of India. The shipments represent the beginning of what promises to be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.

The COVAX Facility plans to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year, including 1.2 billion doses to low- and middle-income countries — an unprecedented global effort to make sure all citizens have access to vaccines. 

Over the next few weeks, UNICEF will ship more than 14.5 million syringes to more than 30 countries

Every year, UNICEF helps immunize more than 45 percent of the world's children. Though these shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are intended for frontline health workers, older people and those with underlying health conditions, not children, UNICEF's expertise in vaccine delivery makes it uniquely positioned to lead the procurement, international shipping and in-country distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination supplies for the COVAX Facility. 

On February 23, UNICEF sent 100,000 syringes and 1,000 safety disposal boxes to the Maldives by air freight from UNICEF's humanitarian warehouse in Dubai — part of the first wave of COVID-19-related syringe shipments to begin rolling out in the coming days. Others in the first wave of shipments include Côte d'Ivoire and São Tomé and Príncipe.

In this global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, syringes are as vital as the vaccine itself. — UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore

Over the next few weeks, UNICEF will ship more than 14.5 million 0.5 ml and 0.3 ml auto-disable syringes to more than 30 countries. The 0.5 ml syringes are meant for use with the Serum Institute of India/AstraZeneca vaccine, and the 0.3 ml ones are to be used with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Auto-disable syringes are ideal for immunization programs because they are designed to lock automatically after a single use, reducing the risk of infection from blood-borne diseases as a result of syringe re-use. 

“In this global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, syringes are as vital as the vaccine itself,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “It is critical to have adequate supplies of syringes already in place in every country before the vaccine arrives so that the vaccine can be administered safely. This will allow immunization to start immediately and help turn the tide on this terrible virus.”

Help UNICEF ensure global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Please donate today.

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Top photo: On February 24, 2021, staff unloads the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the COVAX Facility at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana's capital. © UNICEF/UN0421460/Kokoroko/COVAX