We're ready to bring in Covid-19 vaccines — Unicef - Beaking Kenya News

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Thursday, 24 December 2020

We're ready to bring in Covid-19 vaccines — Unicef


Unicef says all plans are ready to fly Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries next year. 

The UN agency said it could potentially transport up to 850 tonnes per month in 2021, should such quantities become available.

Kenya has ordered 24 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine but is waiting for it to be granted emergency use approval in Britain, before allowing the same here.

In total, researchers around the world are currently testing 63 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and 18 have reached the final stages of testing. Eight of these candidates have been granted emergency use or limited use approvals. 

These are Pfizer-BioNTech which is approved in the US, Canada, Britain and other countries. Others are Moderna of the US and Sputnik V and Vector Institute vaccine of Russia.

The rest are from China — made by CanSino, Sinopharm-Beijing, Sinopharm-Wuhan and Sinovac. 

Of these, only the Moderna vaccine is under the Covax Facility, from which Unicef will procure the doses for 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Frontrunners Johnson & Johnson, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax are in the facility but have not been approved for use anywhere yet.

“This is a mammoth and historic undertaking,” said Henrietta Fore, Unicef executive director. “The scale of the task is daunting, and the stakes have never been higher, but we are ready to take this on.”

In an assessment, Unicef looked at global airfreight capacity and transport routes to better understand the challenges of delivering Covid-19 vaccines in 2021.

It found that commercial airlines will be able to deliver vaccines to almost all 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries, which are among the 190 economies participating in the Covax Facility, at an estimated cost of up to $70 million (about Sh7 billion).

The assessment also found that current air cargo capacity would be sufficient to make deliveries covering 20 per cent of the population for most of the 92 countries.

Covid-19 vaccines are expected to be primarily shipped using existing passenger and cargo flight capacity, although charters or alternative transport options may still be needed for some small countries and others with access issues.

Unicef is working with airlines and the wider logistics industry to prioritise the delivery of the vaccines around the world. One major challenge in the Covid-19 vaccine operation is local cold chain capacity for vaccine storage within some low and lower-middle-income countries.

Given the range of storage temperatures required for Covid-19 vaccines, countries will continue to train logisticians and health workers in how to keep the vaccines at the right temperatures.

As part of a programme that started in 2017, with support from Gavi, Unicef continues to procure and support the installation of 70,000 cold-chain fridges in lower-income countries by the end of 2021, which will help in the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines that need to be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. Almost half of these will be solar-powered.

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