Unicef, in line to vaccinate poorer countries

IPS | THE COUNTRY

UNITED NATIONS

Some 850 tons of vaccines will be able to take UNICEF, by air and every month throughout 2021, to 92 low- and middle-income countries, in order to face the pandemic due to covid-19 in the international alliance for access to vaccination Covax.

Henrietta Fore, director of Unicef ​​(United Nations Children’s Fund), said it is “a historic and colossal project. The scale is overwhelming and there has never been so much at stake, but we are prepared to face it. “

190 countries and territories joined the Covax mechanism, under the umbrella of the World Health Organization (WHO), to access the vaccines developed by large pharmaceutical companies and seek their equitable distribution in all nations, including those with the poorest economies.

Cold

An obstacle in this task is the limited capacity of the refrigeration chain to store vaccines in some low- and lower-middle-income countries, a category that reaches 73 states in the South, according to the World Bank.

Unicef ​​is developing a program to install in low-income countries of the South, by the end of 2021, up to 70,000 refrigerators capable of storing vaccines that require temperatures between two and eight degrees Celsius for their conservation, and half of them will be powered by energy solar.

For the logistics of reaching the 92 countries with the least resources with vaccines, UNICEF registers a deficit of 133 million dollars, and launched a request for contributions for 410 million to complete this task and help recipient countries in their distribution of vaccines. diagnostic instruments and therapeutic treatments.

The WHO reported that it has already secured almost 2 billion doses of vaccines, of the existing ones and the candidates, to reach the goal of 20% of the population being vaccinated within a year in all countries. All health workers who are on the front lines of the fight against COVID should be vaccinated during the first half of 2021.

The distribution will begin in the first quarter “but it will depend on three things: availability of vaccines, that they are approved by regulatory authorities and, finally, and it is critical, that the countries are ready”, said Seth Meyer, director of Gavi, the global vaccine alliance that is part of the Covax mechanism.

The plan

Among the agreements already signed by Covax-WHO is the purchase of 170 million doses from the British consortium of the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, and others for 500 million units for the single-dose vaccine developed by the US group Johnson & Johnson.

There are also agreements to acquire 200 million doses from the Anglo-French Sanofi / GSK consortium, and as many from the Serum Institute in India, which could be extended to the acquisition of 900 million doses.

For Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, director of the WHO, “this is fantastic news, a milestone in global health, and a moment to find comfort in that the end of the pandemic is in sight, but we are careful not to lower our guard” .

“We are all responsible for taking the necessary steps to keep ourselves safe. With today’s news, the light at the end of the tunnel has gotten a little brighter, but we’re not there yet. And we will only get there together, ”added Tedros.

Covax reported that it was able to reach a financing of 2 billion dollars for its programs in 2020, but that it needs another 6.8 billion by 2021. The main resources committed are 1 billion dollars in the form of soft credit from Norway and 612 million from the Bank. European Investment.

The amount

It is estimated that this air operation could cost 70 million dollars.

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