To ensure fair distribution, UNICEF to lead procurement, supply of COVID-19 vaccines

Updated: 08 September, 2020 09:43 IST | Agencies | United Nations

The COVAX Facility is open to all countries to ensure that no country is left without access to a future COVID-19 vaccine

Beach-goers were packed close together with few wearing masks in Brazil on Sunday. Pic/AP
Beach-goers were packed close together with few wearing masks in Brazil on Sunday. Pic/AP

In what could possibly be the world's largest and fastest ever operation of its kind, UNICEF has announced that it will be leading the procurement and supply of coronavirus vaccines to ensure that all countries have safe, fast and equitable access to initial doses when they are available.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is the world's largest single vaccine buyer, procuring more than 2 billion doses of various vaccines annually for routine immunisation and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries.

A boy looks at the COVID-19 vaccine candidate on display at the China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing on Sunday. China has put its home-grown coronavirus vaccine candidates, produced by Chinese firms Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm, on display. Neither has hit the market yet but the makers hope they will be approved after all-important phase 3 trials as early as year-end. Pic/AFP
A boy looks at the COVID-19 vaccine candidate on display at the China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing on Sunday. China has put its home-grown coronavirus vaccine candidates, produced by Chinese firms Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm, on display. Neither has hit the market yet but the makers hope they will be approved after all-important phase 3 trials as early as year-end. Pic/AFP

With several vaccine candidates showing promise, the UN agency, in collaboration with the Revolving Fund of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), will lead efforts to procure and supply doses of COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility for 92 low and lower middle-income countries, whose vaccine purchases will be supported by the mechanism.

UNICEF will also serve as procurement coordinator to support purchases by 80 higher-income economies, which have expressed their intent to participate in the COVAX Facility and would finance the vaccines from their own budgets, it said. The COVAX Facility is open to all countries to ensure that no country is left without access to a future COVID-19 vaccine.

AstraZeneca producing Oxford vaccine

AstraZeneca has started the production of 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, being developed in partnership with Oxford University, for the UK even though an approval has not been granted yet, reported the Guardian. The vaccine is still in trials in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Professor Andrew Pollard, the Oxford Vaccine Group director, in August said it's "just possible" that the data from the clinical trials are enough to take it before the regulators this year.

"We have got 30m doses already contracted with AstraZeneca, in fact they are starting to manufacture those doses already, ahead of approval, so that should approval come through — and it's still not certain but it is looking up — should that approval come through then we are ready to roll out," Health Secretary Matt Hancock, said.
"The best-case scenario is that happens this year. I think more likely is the early part of next year... But we've also bought vaccine ahead of it getting approved from a whole different series of international vaccines as well."

Cases drop in S Korea, Australia hot spots

South Korea has added 119 more COVID-19 cases — mostly from hot spot Seoul — its lowest daily jump in over three weeks. It's the fifth straight day the country's daily jump has stayed under 200. Australia's hot spot Victoria on Monday also recorded its lowest count of new cases in over 10 weeks. It reported 41 new cases and nine deaths in the latest 24-hour period. The cases dropped in both countries because of the strict curbs.

Cases down, Pak to reopen schools

Amid a steady decline in COVID-19 deaths and infections, Pakistan has decided to repoen schools and other educational institutions in phases. The education minister said higher education institutions will restart clases on September 15, and the rest will return on September 23 and 30.

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First Published: 08 September, 2020 08:38 IST

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