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UNICEF to lead global procurement, supply of COVID vaccines
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 04 - 09 - 2020

UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) will be leading procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccinations to ensure that all countries have safe, fast and equitable access to initial doses when they are available, the agency announced.
The vaccine procurement and distribution effort, involving over 170 economies, could possibly be 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," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's executive director.
"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."
UNICEF is the world's largest single vaccine buyer, procuring more than two billion doses of various vaccines annually for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries.
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.
In addition, UNICEF will also serve as the 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, the UN agency said in a news release on Friday.
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.
Some 28 manufacturers have shared their annual production plans for COVID-19 vaccines — through 2023 — with UNICEF, which in a market assessment said the drug makers are willing to collectively produce "unprecedented quantities" of vaccines over the coming 1-2 years.
However, manufacturers signaled that investments to support such large-scale production of doses would be highly dependent on, among other things, whether clinical trials are successful, advance purchase agreements are put in place, funding is confirmed, and regulatory and registration pathways are streamlined.
A key next step, UNICEF said, will be ensuring self-financing economies sign up for the COVAX Facility by Sept. 18, which will allow COVAX to support early, at-risk investments in increasing manufacturing capacity on a broad scale. — UN news


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