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UNICEF begins shipping syringes for Covid-19 vaccine global roll-out under COVAX

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 24, 2021

Maldives, Côte d’Ivoire and São Tomé and Príncipe get first shipments; in next few weeks, UNICEF will ship over 14.5 million 0.5 ml and 0.3 ml auto-disable syringes to more than 30 countries

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has sent 100,000 syringes and 1,000 safety boxes for Covid-19 vaccinations to the Maldives.

The shipment has been carried out by air freight from UNICEF’s humanitarian warehouse in Dubai. This was part of the first wave of Covid-19-related syringe shipments to begin rolling out ahead.

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Others in the first wave of shipments include Côte d’Ivoire and São Tomé and Príncipe, UNICEF revealed in its official release.

Over the next few weeks, UNICEF will ship over 14.5 million 0.5 ml and 0.3 ml auto-disable syringes to more than 30 countries. While the 0.5 ml syringes are meant for use with the Serum Institute of India/AstraZeneca vaccine, the 0.3 ml ones are to be used with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“In this global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, syringes are as vital as the vaccine itself,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

Fore added: “It is critical to have adequate supplies of syringes already in place in every country before the vaccine arrives so that the vaccine can be administered safely. This would allow immunisation to start immediately and help turn the tide on this terrible virus.”

The countries that will receive syringes in this initial tranche are the countries listed under the COVAX facility by the World Health Organisation.

The 0.5 ml syringes are being dispatched from UNICEF’s humanitarian warehouse in Dubai. While the 0.3 ml and 2 ml syringes will be transported directly from a manufacturer in Spain.

UNICEF revealed that the consignments will also include safety boxes for the safe disposal of syringes.

Both syringes are of the auto-disable type, which means they cannot be used again after a single dose of vaccine has been administered. This is done to reduce the risk of infection from blood-borne diseases as a result of syringe re-use.

In all, UNICEF will be supplying up to one billion syringes and 10 million safety boxes to countries in 2021 to ensure they are ready for Covid-19 vaccinations.

For this, UNICEF created a stockpile of around half a billion syringes in its warehouses in Copenhagen and Dubai for the broader rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in 82 low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Published on February 24, 2021

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