UNICEF is going to lead the procurement and supply of coronavirus vaccines across the world to ensure that all countries have safe, fast and equitable access to initial doses when they are available, said a report by United Nations. The United Nations body 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.
With several vaccine candidates showing promise, the UNICEF, in collaboration with the Revolving Fund of the Pan American Health Organization (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.
The 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 vaccine procurement and distribution effort, involving over 170 economies, has the potential to become the world's largest and fastest ever operation of its kind. "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," UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said. "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," she said.
The UNICEF will undertake these efforts in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), PAHO, World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other partners. The COVAX Facility is open to all countries to ensure that no country is left without access to a future COVID-19 vaccine.
About 28 manufacturers have shared their annual production plans for COVID-19 vaccines through 2023 with UNICEF, which said in a market assessment that the drug makers were willing to collectively produce large quantities of vaccines over the coming 1-2 years. However, manufacturers signalled that investments to support such large-scale production of doses would be highly dependent on, among other things, whether clinical trials were successful, advance purchase agreements were put in place, funding was confirmed, and regulatory and registration pathways were streamlined. (Source: PTI)