WHO noted that it will ensure that all countries have equal access to COVAX, coronavirus vaccine, adding that there is a plan to start delivering the shots in the first quarter of 2021.
By mid-year it will have delivered enough doses to protect health and social care workers in all participating countries that have asked to get doses in that time frame. All other participants should get sufficient doses to cover up to 20 per cent of their populations by the end of 2021, and further doses in 2022.
“This is fantastic news and a milestone in global health”, this is a time for taking comfort that the end of the pandemic is in sight, but taking care that we do not let down our guard. We are all responsible for taking the measures to keep ourselves and each other safe, including during this holiday season,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, said it was ready to transport up to 850 tonnes of COVID-19 vaccines per month in 2021, more than twice its usual pay-load of vaccines. Most could be sent using existing commercial flights, but alternative options and charter flights would also be considered where necessary, it said.
“With support of from the global vaccine alliance Gavi, UNICEF is procuring and supporting installation of 70,000 cold-chain fridges in lower income countries by the end of 2021, which will help in the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines that need to be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. Almost half of the fridges will be solar powered,” UNICEF said.
COVAX is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT Accelerator), a comprehensive plan to defeat the virus using diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
On Tuesday, Dr. Tedros’ senior advisor Bruce Aylward called ACT Accelerator the best deal in town adding that its $28 billion price tag would be repaid in full almost overnight because of the immediate economic uplift expected if the disease is tamed.
Before Friday’s announcement, COVAX had already lined up more than 1 billion doses of vaccines under development for 2021. The new announcement included an advance purchase agreement for 170 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford candidate and a memorandum of understanding for 500 million doses of the Janssen candidate, which is currently being investigated as a single dose vaccine.
COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), Gavi, and the World Health Organization (WHO) working in partnership with vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, civil society organisations and others.