“The end of the pandemic is in sight but we must not let our guard down,” said World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as he welcomed the global vaccine partnership COVAX has lined up almost two billion doses of existing and candidate vaccines for use worldwide.
The WHO said that the countries that have asked for the doses would get enough doses by mid of next year. “All other participants should get sufficient doses to cover up to 20 per cent of their populations by the end of 2021, and further doses in 2022,” the WHO said.
Stating that it was fantastic news and a milestone in global health, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that it was a time for taking comfort that the end of the pandemic is in sight, but taking care that we do not let down our guard.
“We are all responsible for taking the measures to keep ourselves and each other safe, including during this holiday season. With today’s news, the light at the end of the tunnel has grown a little bit brighter, but we are not there yet. And we will only get there together”, Tedros said.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that they were ready to transport up to 850 tonnes of Covid 19 vaccines per month next year. This is twice its usual payload of vaccines. Stating that the vaccines are usually sent through existing commercial flights, the UNICEF said that alternative options and charter flights is considered where necessary.
With support from the global vaccine alliance Gavi, UNICEF is procuring and supporting installation of 70,000 cold-chain fridges in lower income countries by the end of 2021 Almost half of the fridges will be solar powered, the UNICEF said.
COVAX is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT Accelerator), a comprehensive plan to defeat the virus using diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. It has already lined up more than one billion doses of vaccines under development for 2021. This included an advance purchase agreement for 170 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford candidate and a memorandum of understanding for 500 million doses of the Janssen candidate, which is currently being investigated as a single dose vaccine.
Avoid ‘nationalistic footrace’
WHO Director of Emergencies Dr. Mike Ryan said that the governments’ move to secure COVID-19 vaccines for their populations, choosing these treatments should not be viewed as “some kind of nationalistic footrace”, with some countries winning and others losing. “It could be very destructive for us all to turn this into some kind of nationalistic footrace to who does what. We all have to get there together. We simply have to finish this race in a line together. And someone getting there first doesn’t necessarily help everybody else” Dr Ryan said.