Unicef says this is part of the work by the COVAX Facility to provide vaccines to all participating countries. COVAX is a global collaboration co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO, and includes UNICEF, which leads on procurement and delivery, as well as getting countries ready to receive vaccines.
“In this global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, syringes are as vital as the vaccine itself
“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 immunization to start immediately and help turn the tide on this terrible virus, ” said Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
An additional 2,160,000 syringes and 21,600 safety boxes for Malawi have also been dispatched by sea and are expected to arrive mid-March 2021.
Although the first deliveries are being transported by air, most of the syringes and safety boxes will be transported by sea due to the large amount of space they take up as cargo.
Globally, UNICEF will be supplying up to 1 billion syringes and 10 million safety boxes to countries in 2021 to ensure they are ready for COVID-19 vaccinations.
In order to meet the demand for these vital supplies, UNICEF created a stockpile of almost half a billion syringes in its warehouses in Copenhagen and Dubai in preparation for the broader rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in 82 low- and lower middle-income countries.
UNICEF has been working with airlines, logistics operators and freight forwarders to ensure the syringes are treated as priority freight.
The organisation says even before COVID-19, it was already the largest single vaccine buyer in the world, procuring over 2 billion vaccines annually in order to reach almost half of the world’s children under 5. In addition, the agency procures and supplies around 600-800 million syringes for regular immunization programmes annually.