Some 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which requires ultra-cold chain storage, are to be delivered to 18 countries in the first quarter of the year, out of an agreed total of 40 million. An additional 336 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford jab is to be lined up for dispatch to nearly all countries that have signed up to the COVAX scheme, once it has been approved for use by the UN health agency.
COVID-19 vaccine research continues
Key workers and other vulnerable
people in 145 countries should receive COVID-19 vaccines in the first half of
this year, under the joint UN-led COVAX initiative for fair access to
coronavirus-beating jabs, it’s been confirmed.
Some 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which requires ultra-cold chain storage, are to be
delivered to 18 countries in the first quarter of the year, out of an agreed
total of 40 million. An additional 336 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford
jab is to be lined up for dispatch to nearly all countries that have signed up
to the COVAX scheme, once it has been approved
for use by the UN health agency.
The total number of doses will
cover, on average, 3.3 per cent of the population of the countries benefiting
from the scheme, according to the announcement made on Wednesday, by the World
Health Organization (WHO) to help Governments to prepare their vaccine
distribution programmes and provide details about which vaccine they can expect
to receive, between now and the end of June.
This will make it possible for
governments to protect their most vulnerable citizens - such as front-line
health care workers, the World Health Organization said, along with Gavi, the
Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
Uganda's ministry of health
announced earlier that it has placed an order for 18 million doses of the
AstraZeneca Vaccine from the Serum Institute of India which will be used to
vaccinate persons aged 50 and above, those with underlying health conditions,
health workers, security personnel, and teachers, among other essential services
The COVAX Facility, which is
managed by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, GAVI has already
allocated 3.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Uganda. These are
expected into the country by the end of the month.
Ahead of the announcement, Henrietta Fore, the head of UN Children’s Fund-UNICEF noted that
the agency had been getting ready by stockpiling half a billion syringes and
working with airlines, governments and other partners to iron out potential
“Our country offices will support
governments as they move forward with this first wave to ensure that they are
ready to receive the vaccines that require an ultra-cold chain (storage). “This
includes ensuring that health workers are fully trained in how to store and
handle the vaccines…Many of these doses will go to health workers in urban
areas who are at the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19 infections.”
In a related development on
Wednesday, Ms Fore also announced the signing of a deal securing 1.1 billion
doses of COVID-19 vaccines for around 100 countries. The agreement with the
Serum Institute of India is for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and the Novavax
vaccine, both of which have yet to receive Emergency Use Listing by the WHO.
Low and middle-income countries
will pay approximately USD 3 per dose, Ms Fore said. “This is a great value for
COVAX donors and a strong demonstration of one of the fundamental principles of
COVAX – that by pooling our resources we can negotiate in bulk for the best