COVID-19: COVAX celebrates milestone of delivering about 400m doses to 51 countries

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COVAX, co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), are celebrating the milestone of delivering about 400 million COVID-19 doses to 51 countries in Africa.

Reports say that COVAX and the WHO are working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, civil society organisations, manufacturers, and others, during the celebration.

Dr. Seth Berkley, Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on the sideline of a three-day high-level summit on “Ports to Arms” Africa responds to the COVID-19, equity, delivery, and manufacturing, on Wednesday in Abuja, that February 24, 2021, marked one year it began global rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

NAN reports that Ghana became the first country outside India to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses, shipped via the COVAX Facility. This was a historic step towards COVAX’s goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, in what it said to be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.

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On 23 February, COVAX shipped 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) from Pune, India, to Accra, Ghana, arriving on the morning of 24 February. The arrival in Accra was the first batch shipped and delivered in Africa by the COVAX Facility as part of an unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

Berkeley said that the challenge was making sure those doses were being used to cover those at highest risk first, because COVAX do follow the guidelines of WHO in terms of trying to protect those who were most vulnerable to disease.

He disclosed that there were more doses that would be made available, explaining this is why the meeting of “Ports to Arms” is so important.

The Gavi CEO said this was to ensure that the absorption capacity of countries was such that those doses can be used and used quickly and then get to the people who need them.

“And this is something that we’re working very actively on. In terms of the Nigerian situation, there’s been around 90 million doses that have been allocated to Nigeria.

“Sixteen million doses have now been delivered. And those doses are in the process of being used, and there’s a lot more issues to be considered, including financing,” he disclosed.

NAN recalls that the three-day summit is a follow up on the October 2021 World Health Summit in Berlin, which called for world leaders to address global pandemic preparedness, the high-level dialogues at the 2021 Wilton Park events and building on the G20 Rome declaration and the Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better.

The summit further seeks to:

“Engender a platform for African and global experts to share effective approaches to addressing equitable access to COVID-19 tools;

“Enable stakeholders to redefine the state of ‘global solidarity’ to advance collective pandemic response;

“Develop practical steps to actualise commitments – going beyond rhetoric, and urgently address access to COVID-19 tools, with a focus on equitable vaccine access and manufacturing for the African Continent;

“Design strategies to close the delivery gap of essential health services such as routine immunisation and interventions that build on Africa’s medium- and long-term recovery and resilience strategies.

“Access to vaccines is key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. While the world contends with inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, at a sub-national level, the challenges of procuring, delivering and getting vaccines into arms of everyone in all our communities has its own set of challenges, depending on different resource settings and health systems infrastructure,” it outlined. (NAN)

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