Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 19
UNICEF has begun laying the groundwork for the rapid, safe and efficient delivery of the eventual vaccine by purchasing and pre-positioning syringes and other necessary equipment.
As soon as COVID-19 vaccines successfully emerge from trials and are licensed and recommended for use, the world will need as many syringes as doses of vaccine.
“To begin preparations, this year, UNICEF will stockpile 520 million syringes in its warehouses, part of a larger plan of 1 billion syringes by 2021, to guarantee initial supply and help ensure that syringes arrive in countries before the COVID-19 vaccines,” UNICEF said today.
During 2021, assuming there are enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines, UNICEF anticipates delivering over 1 billion syringes to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts on top of the 620 million syringes that UNICEF will purchase for other vaccination programmes against other diseases such as measles, typhoid and more.
“Vaccinating the world against COVID-19 will be one of the largest mass undertakings in human history, and we will need to move as quickly as the vaccines can be produced,” Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, said Monday.
She said 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,” she said.
Besides syringes, UNICEF is buying 5 million safety boxes so that used syringes and needles can be disposed of in a safe manner by personnel at health facilities, thus preventing the risk of needle stick injuries and blood-borne diseases. Every safety box carries 100 syringes.
Injection equipment such as syringes and safety boxes have a shelf life of five years.
As the key procurement coordinator for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF is already the largest single vaccine buyer in the world, procuring more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunisation and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries.
India manufactures 60 pc of all vaccines UNICEF uses for distribution across the world.