UN children’s agency UNICEF said on Monday that nearly 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be shipped and flown to developing countries by next year in a mammoth operation, as world leaders vowed vaccine’s fair distribution.
UNICEF has started working with 350 Airlines and freight companies to plan the delivery of the vaccines and 1 billion syringes to impecunious countries such as Afghanistan, Burundi, and Yemen as part of COVAX, the global vaccine allocation plan with the World Health Organization.
“This invaluable collaboration will go a long way to ensure that enough transport capacity is in place for this historic and mammoth operation,” said Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s Supply Division, in a statement.
The allocation plan is co-led by the GAVI vaccine group, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and WHO — it discourages governments from hoarding coronavirus vaccine, and initially focuses the distribution to countries more at risk.
At a G20 summit this week, the 20 biggest world economy leaders pledged to ensure equal distribution of the vaccine, drugs, and tests, so poorer countries are not left behind.
According to WHO, before the COVID-19 pandemic access to vaccines was unequal, as 20 million babies left not receiving vaccines, which could save them from serious diseases, disabilities, death, and ill-health.
“We need all hands on deck as we get ready to deliver COVID-19 vaccine doses, syringes, and more personal protective equipment to protect frontline workers around the globe,” said Kadilli, a UNICEF member working with the Pan American Health Organization and the International Air Transport Association.
UN as the largest single vaccine buyer procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines yearly for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of 100 countries.
The race for an effective and efficient vaccine began following the rise of the pandemic, with large global trials involving thousands of volunteers.
This comes as Pfizer-BioNTech announces 95% success in their vaccines without any side effects, and Moderna Inc reported 94.5% efficacy.
Both vaccines developed with new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, made the world hopeful for the end of the pandemic.
COVID-19 death toll globally have reached to 1,388,926 individuals.