With countries around the globe gearing up to distribute COVID 19 vaccines, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has begun stockpiling syringes and other necessary equipment.
“To begin preparations, this year, UNICEF will stockpile 520 million syringes in its warehouses, part of a larger plan to have a billion syringes ready for use through 2021, to guarantee initial supply and help ensure that syringes arrive before vaccines are distributed,” the UNICEF said.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that vaccinating the world against COVID 19 pandemic would be one of the largest mass undertakings in human history. “We will need to move as quickly as the vaccines can be produced,” Fore said.
“In order to move fast later, we must move fast now. By the end of the year, we will already have over half a billion syringes pre-positioned where they can be deployed quickly and cost effectively. That’s enough syringes to wrap around the world one and a half times,” said the UNICEF Executive Director.
In line with the longstanding collaboration between the two partners, the global vaccine alliance Gavi, will reimburse UNICEF for the cost of syringes and safety boxes,
Apart from syringes, the UN Children’s Fund will also buy five million safety boxes for the safe disposal of syringes and needles so as to reduce the risk of needle stick injuries and blood borne diseases.
Every safety box carries 100 syringes. Accordingly, UNICEF said it was “bundling” the syringes with safety boxes to ensure enough safety boxes are available to go along with the syringes.
Syringes and safety boxes have a shelf life of five years. UNICEF is the largest single vaccine buyer in the world. It provides for almost half of the world’s children and procures and supplies around 600-800 million syringes for regular immunization programmes.
COVID-19 vaccines will likely treble or quadruple that number, depending on the number that are ultimately produced and secured by UNICEF.
“Over two decades, Gavi has helped an additional 822 million children from the world’s most vulnerable countries access critical, life-saving vaccines”, said Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “This would not have been possible without our partnership with UNICEF, and it is this same collaboration that will be essential to Gavi’s work with the COVAX Facility.”
The UNICEF along with the World health Organisation is looking for cold chain equipment and storage facility to make sure that vaccines are transported and stored at the right temperature.
“We are doing everything we can to deliver these essential supplies efficiently, effectively and at the right temperature, as we already do so well all over the world,” Fore said.