BY VANESSA GONYE
COUNTRIES that are participating in the Covax facility, Zimbabwe included, will benefit from a 120 million dose project by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and Sinovac in a bid to scale up the COVID-19 vaccination programme as the world tries to curb further spread of the deadly virus.
The Covax facility aims to help ease the impact of the global pandemic by end of year by providing rapid, fair and equitable access to safe and effective vaccines for all participating countries and territories regardless of income level.
In a statement yesterday, Unicef said it signed an agreement with Sinopharm to avail 120 million doses by year end. It said distribution of the vaccines was set to commence next month.
“Through the agreement, Unicef will have access up to 120 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021 to supply participating countries and territories in the Covax facility’s advance market commitment (AMC), as well as self-financing participants,” the statement read.
This is the seventh supply agreement Unicef has signed for COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of Covax.
It said distribution and quantities of the vaccines that would be sent to member countries would depend on the country’s readiness.
“The Covax allocation framework will determine the dose allocations to Covax participants taking into consideration access, country readiness, and vaccine supply through Covax to date, operating and supply aspects, and other parameters.”
The Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine received World Health Organisation (WHO) emergency use listing in May.
Yesterday, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, announced that it had signed an advance purchase agreement with Sinopharm on behalf of the Covax facility for the purchase of up to 60 million doses to be made available from this month through to October.
The agreement also includes an option to purchase a further 60 million doses in the fourth quarter of 2021 and 50 million more doses in the first half of 2022, if necessary.
This totals a potential 170 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine available to Covax participants.