COVAX plans global rollout of vaccine starting in first quarter of 2021
According to the World Health Organisation, the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that aims to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, plans for the first deliveries of vaccines in the first quarter of 2021, with the first tranche of doses delivered in the first half of 2021 to all participating economies, including Namibia.
The rollout would be followed by further delivery of doses to all participants in the second half of the year – targeting supply of doses equalling up to 20% of participants’ populations (or a lower amount if requested by the participant) by the end of the year. Additional doses to reach higher coverage levels will then be available in 2022. All deliveries are contingent upon several factors, such as regulatory approvals and country readiness.
“The arrival of vaccines is giving all of us a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation. “But we will only truly end the pandemic if we end it everywhere at the same time, which means it’s essential to vaccinate some people in all countries, rather than all people in some countries. And we must remember that vaccines will complement, but not replace, the many other tools we have in our toolbox to stop transmission and save lives. We must continue to use all of them.”
The COVAX Facility currently has 190 participating economies. This includes 98 higher-income economies and 92 low- and middle-income economies eligible to have their participation in the Facility supported via the financing mechanism known as the Gavi COVAX AMC. Of the 92 economies eligible to be supported by the COVAX AMC, 86 have now submitted detailed vaccine requests, offering the clearest picture yet on actual global demand for COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition to gathering detailed information on participating economies’ vaccine requests, COVAX, through Gavi, UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, and other partners has been working closely with all countries in the Facility, particularly AMC-eligible participants, to help plan and prepare for the widespread roll out of vaccines. Conditions that determine country readiness include regulatory preparedness as well as the availability of infrastructure, appropriate legal frameworks, training, and capacity, among other factors.
“Securing access to doses of a new vaccine for both higher-income and lower-income countries, at roughly the same time and during a pandemic, is a feat the world has never achieved before – let alone at such unprecedented speed and scale,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which leads on procurement and delivery for COVAX. “COVAX has now built a platform that offers the world the prospect, for the first time, of being able to defeat the pandemic on a global basis, but the work is not done: it’s critical that both governments and industry continue to support our efforts to achieve this goal.”