World

UNICEF to lead global procurement, supply of Covid vaccines

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on September 07, 2020 Published on September 07, 2020

UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore has termed the efforts underway to procure and supply COVID-19 vaccines equitably, an “all-hands on deck” partnership between governments, manufacturers and multilateral partners against COVID-19.

“In our collective pursuit of a vaccine, UNICEF is leveraging its unique strengths in vaccine supply to make sure that all countries have safe, fast and equitable access to the initial doses when they are available,” Fore said recently, in a statement.

UNICEF is the largest single vaccine buyer in the world, procuring more than two billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunisation and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries.

On possible Covid-19 vaccines, UNICEF said it was leading what could possibly be the world’s largest and fastest ever procurement and supply of vaccines, as part of the global vaccine plan of the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX Facility) led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

With several vaccine candidates showing promise, UNICEF, in collaboration with the PAHO Revolving Fund, will lead efforts to procure and supply doses of COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the COVAX Facility for 92 low- and lower middle-income countries whose vaccine purchases will be supported by the mechanism through the Gavi COVAX AMC as well as a buffer stockpile for humanitarian emergencies, a note from the multilateral agency said.

UNICEF will also serve as procurement coordinator to support procurement by 80 higher-income economies, which have expressed their intent to participate in the COVAX Facility and would finance the vaccines from their own public finance budgets, it added.

These efforts were in collaboration with WHO, Gavi, CEPI, PAHO, World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners. The COVAX Facility is open to all countries to ensure that no country is left without access to a future COVID-19 vaccine.

Double global procurements

UNICEF is the main procurement partner of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which over the last 20 years has reached more than 760 million children with life-saving vaccines, preventing more than 13 million deaths. UNICEF will use its market shaping and procurement expertise to coordinate the procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines for the COVAX Facility. This could potentially double the agency’s overall vaccine procurement throughput volume in 2021 alone., it said.

In response to an expression of interest that UNICEF issued in June on behalf of the COVAX Facility, 28 manufacturers with production facilities in 10 countries shared their annual production plans for COVID-19 vaccines through 2023. According to the timelines the manufacturers indicated, the span from development to production could be one of the fastest scientific and manufacturing leaps in history.

A UNICEF market assessment, developed by compiling information submitted by vaccine manufacturers along with publicly available data, revealed that manufacturers are willing to collectively produce unprecedented quantities of vaccines over the coming 1-2 years. However, manufacturers signalled that investments to support such large-scale production of doses would be highly dependent on, among other things, whether clinical trials are successful, advance purchase agreements are put in place, funding is confirmed, and regulatory and registration pathways are streamlined.

A key next step will be ensuring self-financing economies sign up for the COVAX Facility by 18 September, which will allow COVAX to support early, at-risk investments in increasing manufacturing capacity on a broad scale, through advance purchase agreements.

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Published on September 07, 2020
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