First batch of vaccines from COVAX for elderly population

The first batch of coronavirus vaccines from the COVAX facility, to be delivered to Sri Lanka on Sunday, will be used only on the elderly population.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) will deliver the first shipment of 264,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine provided to Sri Lanka under the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility.

Issuing a statement, the UNICEF said it has been contracted with procuring and delivering the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to Sri Lanka.

The vaccines are part of the 1.44 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility allocated for the Ministry of Health of Sri Lanka.

Led by UNICEF, the procurement and delivery of this supply of the vaccines through the COVAX Facility underpins the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and will provide critical vaccination support for 20 per cent of the population.

The UNICEF said the first 264,000 doses from COVAX will be for the most vulnerable persons above 60 years of age group in the most high-risk areas impacted by COVID-19.

As part of the agreement between the Ministry of Health and the COVAX Facility, the supply of the 1.44 million doses will be procured by UNICEF in stages until May 2021, subject to the availability from manufacturers and authorization by WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL).

The UNICEF led supply operation to Sri Lanka on behalf of the COVAX Facility is part of one of the largest global vaccine procurement and supply operations that covers the procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and lower middle-income countries around the world.

As the largest single vaccine buyer in the world, UNICEF is currently geared to deliver 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines globally in 2021.

The first shipment of 264,000 COVAX vaccines is being delivered through UNICEF via Emirates Sky Cargo, one of the ten leading airlines which have signed agreements under UNICEF’s Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative.

As part of the agreement with UNICEF, these airlines are committed to support the prioritization of delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies to respond to the pandemic and ensure measures such as temperature control and security, increased freight capacity to routes where needed, are taken.

Additionally, UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Health to support Sri Lanka’s preparedness to receive vaccines and roll-out vaccination plans as part of the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan of the Ministry of Health including supply and logistics, and risk communication and demand generation.

This involves technical support to ensure that the Immunization Supply Chains Management (ISCM) system including the Cold Chain, is in place and ready to receive, store and roll-out the Covid-19 vaccine even to the most difficult-to-reach communities; and the development and implementation of a COVID-19 risk communication and community engagement strategies.

The COVAX Facility is a global collaboration to ensure everyone around the world is provided with equal access to COVID-19 vaccines. The Facility supports the research, development and manufacturing of a wide range of COVID-19 vaccines, price negotiation, and enable equal access to all participating countries.

The COVAX Facility is coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO, with UNICEF leading procurement, logistics and storage globally. (Colombo Gazette)

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