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UNICEF, WHO Set New COVID-19 Vaccine Donation Rules

the statement says majority of donations to-date do not include the necessary vaccination supplies such as syringes and diluent, nor do they cover freight costs - meaning these have to be sourced separately which leads to additional costs, complexity and delay. With the new guidelines, countries will only donate if they are able to accompany doses with all essential ancillaries to ensure rapid allocation and absorption.
The World Health Organisation has set new rules requiring  donors of COVID-19 vaccines to only donate doses that have a minimum of 10 weeks shelf life when they arrive in the recipient country.

In the new  standards that start bitting on January 1, 2022, WHO  also  asks donors to release  doses in large volumes and in a predictable manner, Where exceptions on shelf life will only apply where recipient countries indicate willingness and ability to absorb doses with a shorter shelf-life.   

In it's latest statement, the organization notes that most COVID-19 vaccines so far donated to African countries in a move to increase access have been ad hoc, provided with little notice.

In this  update,  the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the COVAX facility note that while donations are vital in their  global goal of immunising 70% of the African population, quality of donations need to improve.  

To date, over 90 million donated doses have been delivered to the continent via COVAX and AVAT and millions more via bilateral arrangements. But the statement that is jointly signed by UNICEF and WHO shows it has been extremely challenging for countries to plan vaccination campaigns and increase absorptive capacity. 

To achieve higher coverage rates across the continent, and for donations to be a sustainable source of supply that can complement supply from AVAT and COVAX purchase agreements, the UN organisations warn this trend must change.  

"Countries need predictable and reliable supply. Having to plan at short notice and ensure uptake of doses with short shelf lives exponentially magnifies the logistical burden on health systems that are already stretched. Furthermore, ad hoc supply of this kind utilises capacity – human resources, infrastructure, cold chain – that could be directed towards long-term successful and sustainable rollout", the statement reads adding that countries risk having expiries  which may have long-term repercussions for vaccine confidence.

Now, among the new donation standards released on Monday, donating countries also have to notify recipient countries  of the availability of donated doses not less than 4 weeks before their tentative arrival in-country.  

In addition, the statement says majority of donations to-date do not include the necessary vaccination supplies such as syringes and diluent, nor do they cover freight costs -  meaning these have to be sourced separately which  leads to additional costs, complexity and delay. 

With the new guidelines, countries will only donate if they are able to accompany doses  with all essential ancillaries to ensure rapid allocation and absorption.      

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