COVAX bottlenecks should be urgently addressed, U.N. company says

By Emma Farge

GENEVA, Feb 5 (Reuters) – A prime official on the U.N. company answerable for vaccine deliveries by way of the COVAX sharing scheme urged recipient nations on Friday to deal with bottlenecks that might hamper the rollout set to start this month.

COVAX is supposed to start out dispatching the primary of tons of of tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccines for poorer nations from February in a bid to deal with the inequity in vaccine distribution which has thus far favoured rich nations.

“My fundamental level is we have to actually urgently now make sure that we deal with bottlenecks on a rustic degree. We see fairly a couple of,” Benjamin Schreiber, COVAX coordinator for the U.N. youngsters’s company, instructed Reuters.

COVAX is collectively run by the GAVI alliance, the World Well being Group, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Improvements and UNICEF.

The latter is answerable for procurement and provide on the planet’s biggest-ever such operation that includes making ready 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines for supply this 12 months – a mission Schreiber described as “great and daunting.”

As a part of the plan, UNICEF has at the least half a billion syringes stockpiled in warehouses able to go and is working with airways and freight firms on the primary vaccine deliveries. As soon as the planes land, nations take over.


The primary bottleneck he recognized was capability to deal with the incoming shipments equivalent to warehouse house and walk-in fridges to retailer the vaccines.

One other was belief and demand for photographs.

“We won’t go away any dose sitting round idle,” he mentioned.

Nevertheless, requested in regards to the February date, he expressed confidence it might begin on time, albeit on a small scale, with deliveries ramping up later.

“I’m fairly assured we are going to obtain one thing,” he mentioned, including he anticipated different “little bottlenecks” to come up.

UNICEF has acquired requests from a number of nations to obtain gadgets wanted for vaccination campaigns in addition to the specialist freezers required to retailer the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, Schreiber mentioned.


Up to now, about 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer Inc vaccine have been earmarked for round 18 nations by means of COVAX, he added.

Pfizer reached a cope with COVAX for 40 million doses final month. Requested to answer criticism that COVAX ought to have secured extra mRNA vaccines like Pfizer’s earlier, Schreiber pointed to price range constraints.

“When offers have been made (with rich nations) in Might (2020) there was an actual hole in funding within the COVAX facility,” he mentioned.

(Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva Enhancing by Matthew Lewis)


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