UNICEF to lead procurement and supply of Covid-19 vaccine
The United Nations agency who provide humanitarian aid to children worldwide are part of a global plan led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to coronavirus jabs for every country in the world – rich and poor.
With several vaccine candidates showing promise, UNICEF, will lead efforts to procure and supply doses of Covid-19 vaccines for 92 low and lower middle-income countries whose vaccine purchases as well as a buffer stockpile for humanitarian emergencies.
In addition, the agency will also serve as the coordinator to support procurement by 80 higher-income economies, which have expressed their intent to participate in the initiative and would finance the vaccines from their own public finance budgets.
UNICEF say if vaccine trials are successful, enough syringes would be needed to inject the vaccines and are therefore buying millions of them with Gavi’s backing and shipping them in advance.
In the worst-case scenario, if no Covid-vaccine is successful, UNICEF will still be able to use them in immunization programmes across low and middle-income countries as the shelf life of these products is 4-5 years.
Besides syringes, they are also buying safety boxes, so the syringes can be disposed a safe way.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, said: “This is an all-hands on deck partnership between governments, manufacturers and multilateral partners to continue the high-stakes fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In our collective pursuit of a vaccine, UNICEF is leveraging its unique strengths in vaccine supply to make sure that all countries have safe, fast and equitable access to the initial doses when they are available.”
UNICEF is the largest single vaccine buyer in the world, procuring more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunizationand outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries.
It is the main procurement partner of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which over the last 20 years has reached more than 760 million children with life-saving vaccines, preventing more than 13 million deaths.
UNICEF will use its market shaping and procurement expertise to coordinate the procurement and supply of Covid-19 vaccines for the COVAX Facility.
This could potentially double the agency’s overall vaccine procurement throughput volume in 2021 alone.
In response to an expression of interest that UNICEF issued in June on behalf of the COVAX Facility, 28 manufacturers with production facilities in 10 countries shared their annual production plans for Covid-19 vaccines through 2023.
A UNICEF market assessment, developed by compiling information submitted by vaccine manufacturers along with publicly available data, revealed that manufacturers are willing to collectively produce unprecedented quantities of vaccines over the coming 1-2 years.
According to the timelines the manufacturers indicated, the span from development to production could be one of the fastest scientific and manufacturing leaps in history.