Côte d’Ivoire becomes second African country and first French-speaking country to receive vaccine doses via COVAX Facility – WHO/UNICEF/GAVI/CEPI JOINT PRESS RELEASE

26th February 2021
On Friday 26 February 2021, (left to right) UNICEF supply officer Mohamadou Sy at the airport in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire received 504,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility. The vaccines and other equipment are being transported across the world by UNICEF as part of the efforts by the COVAX Facility to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.  © UNICEF/Diarassouba


ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, 26 February 2021 – The COVAX initiative shipped 504,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, licensed by the Serum Institute of India, to India, and 505,000 syringes to Abidjan, on 26 February 2021. This marks the second batch that has been shipped and delivered to Africa by the COVAX Facility in an unprecedented effort to provide at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.

The vaccine doses were received at Abidjan International Airport by Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Health and Public Hygiene, Dr Eugène Aka Aouélé, accompanied by members of the COVAX Facility – the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – in addition to the United Nations Development System (UNDS) Resident Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire and the ambassadors of the European Union countries, whose funding enabled manufacturing, transport and distribution of the vaccine. The vaccines transported by UNICEF came from India (Mumbai), and were transported through Dubai where a shipment of syringes from a Gavi-funded stockpile was collected from UNICEF’s regional supply centre. UNICEF strives to monitor vaccines throughout the supply chain, from the factory gate to the port of entry in each country.

After Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire is now the second African country to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccine delivered through the COVAX Facility. This is an historic step towards ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide as part of the largest ever vaccine procurement and supply operation.

“Côte d’Ivoire is pleased and proud to be the second African country after Ghana to receive vaccines provided through the COVAX Facility. This is an important step in our shared fight against the common enemy that is COVID-19. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll around the world and our country is no exception. More than 32,000 people living in Côte d’Ivoire have been infected with the disease, and 188 have died. This is a tragedy. I would like to honour their memory. The vaccines we have received today will enable us to contain the pandemic and improve the health of our population,” said the Ivorian Minister of Health and Public Hygiene.

COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and is led jointly by Gavi, WHO, CEPI, and UNICEF which is leading vaccine procurement and delivery operations.

“This is an important moment for Côte d’Ivoire, the African continent and COVAX, bringing us all closer to our common goal of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines,” said Gavi’s Managing Director, Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao. “Our work on the global roll-out has only just begun, but Gavi is proud to see COVAX and AMC [Advance Market Commitment] become a reality with this first wave of deliveries which will protect the most vulnerable, including health workers fighting on the front line against this pandemic.”

“Today is an important first step towards achieving our shared vision of vaccine equity, but it is only the beginning. We are proud that Côte d’Ivoire is among the first countries in Africa to receive the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine through the COVAX Facility. The global pandemic has already caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and disrupted the lives of billions of people. As well as reducing the tragic number of deaths and bringing the pandemic under control, the vaccine will also prevent US$375 billion in losses to the global economy each month. Global and equitable access to a vaccine, which will protect health workers and those at greatest risk of contracting the disease in particular, is the only way to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on public health and the economy,” said the WHO Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, Dr. Jean-Marie Vianney Yameogo.

“Vaccines save lives. As health workers and other front-line staff are vaccinated, we will see a gradual return to normality, including improved access to health, education and protection services for all, and especially for children. UNICEF and its partners are working together to help countries prepare for the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine and the launch of the immunization campaign. In the spirit of universal health coverage, we must leave no one behind,” said Marc Vincent, the UNICEF Representative in Côte d’Ivoire.

“As the first donor to the COVAX Facility with a contribution of €2.3 billion, “Team Europe” (the European Union, its Member States and the European Investment Bank) is proud to have facilitated access for the people of Côte d’Ivoire to the first COVID-19 vaccines. This is a tangible sign of solidarity, which will be gradually extended to other African countries,” said European Union Ambassador, Jobst von Kirchmann.

Quotes from partners and donors

Richard Bell, Ambassador of the United States of America to Côte d’Ivoire: “The United States of America is committed to working with partners around the world to end the destructive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this commitment, the United States has pledged $4 billion to support the international COVAX effort which is facilitating global access to COVID-19 vaccines. This includes an immediate $2 billion contribution to Gavi and a leadership role in motivating other countries and institutions to contribute to COVAX, offering an additional $2 billion by 2022.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides technical assistance and funding to support the Ministry of Health in several areas including planning, implementation and evaluation of the immunization campaign and monitoring of adverse events following immunization (AEFI).”

Cathy Bassa, Chargé d’Affaires at the British Embassy in Côte d’Ivoire: “As one of the largest donors to the COVAX initiative, the United Kingdom has made a commitment of £548 million to provide more than one billion doses of vaccine to 92 countries, ensuring that no one is left behind in the global fight against COVID-19.  I am delighted that Côte d’Ivoire is one of the very first countries to receive these doses of vaccine.  The UK has pledged a total of £1.3 billion to put an end to this global pandemic as quickly as possible.  Through these actions, we will save lives and reduce the risk of future infections by preventing the spread of the virus.”

Claude Demers, Canadian Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire: ” Canada has supported Gavi from day one to establish and implement COVAX and to obtain the necessary support to this end. Through this mechanism, Canada promotes quick, fair and equitable access to safe, effective and high-quality vaccines for all participating countries to help slow the global pandemic. We know that no one is safe until everyone is safe. I am glad that Côte d’Ivoire will now be able benefit from this collective effort.”

Keiichi Ono, Director-General for Global Issues (Japan):

“We welcome the start of vaccine delivery through the COVAX Facility as an important first step. Since the COVAX Facility was launched last June, Japan has helped create an unprecedented mechanism and to finance the AMC. Japan is committed to helping ensure equitable access to safe, effective and high-quality vaccines.”

Lee Sang Ryul, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Côte d’Ivoire: “The Republic of Korea is supporting WHO’s efforts to ensure equitable access to vaccines and is actively participating in the COVAX Facility. I expect international cooperation on vaccine delivery to developing countries to be strengthened, and I expect our cooperation with the International Vaccine Institute to be further developed.”

Anne Lugon-Moulin, Ambassador of Switzerland to Côte d’Ivoire: “Switzerland is pleased to have helped Côte d’Ivoire procure vaccines by contributing CHF 20 million to the COVAX AMC and providing an overall contribution of CHF 10 million to Gavi.”

Coralie Gevers, World Bank’s Country Director for Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Guinea and Togo: ” We commend the COVAX initiative and our partners: GAVI, UNICEF and WHO. The World Bank is committed to supporting the government’s efforts to deploy these vaccines quickly and effectively, starting with those most at risk so that they can serve the population, such as health workers, teachers, and defence and security forces. The World Bank is supporting international efforts to accelerate access to vaccines and the procurement of sufficient quantities for developing countries.”


Philippe Poinsot, Resident Coordinator of the UNDS: “I thank all the donor countries that, through their contributions, have made it possible to set up the COVAX initiative. Their commitment is a display of international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The COVAX alliance proves that multilateralism is essential to effectively address global problems and challenges. The United Nations Development System and WHO and UNICEF in particular will continue to closely collaborate with the Ivorian Government to guarantee, in addition to the available vaccines, that the entire chain – from vaccine preservation, to training health workers, to raising public awareness and vaccinating the groups concerned – is effectively ensured, to save more lives and curb the spread of the pandemic in Côte d’Ivoire.”



 Notes for Editors

Click here to download photos and videos of the arrival of the vaccines and the official handover (available on 26 February).


COVAX is co-led by CEPI, Gavi and WHO – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementation partner, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.

CEPI is leading on the COVAX vaccine research and development portfolio, investing in R&D across a variety of promising candidates, with the goal to support development of three safe and effective vaccines which can be made available to countries participating in the COVAX Facility. As part of this work, CEPI has secured first right of refusal to potentially over one billion doses for the COVAX Facility to a number of candidates, and made strategic investments in vaccine manufacturing, which includes reserving capacity to manufacture doses of COVAX vaccines at a network of facilities, and securing glass vials to hold 2 billion doses of vaccine. CEPI is also investing in the ‘next generation’ of vaccine candidates, which will give the world additional options to control COVID-19 in the future.

Gavi is leading on procurement and delivery for COVAX, coordinating the design and implementation of the COVAX Facility and the COVAX AMC and working with Alliance partners UNICEF and WHO, along with governments, on country readiness and delivery. The COVAX Facility is the global pooled procurement mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through which COVAX will ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for all 190 participating economies, using an allocation framework formulated by WHO. The COVAX Facility will do this by pooling buying power from participating economies and providing volume guarantees across a range of promising vaccine candidates. The Gavi COVAX AMC is the financing mechanism that will support the participation of 92 low- and middle-income countries in the Facility, enabling access to donor-funded doses of safe and effective vaccines. UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) will be acting as procurement coordinators for the COVAX Facility, helping deliver vaccines to all participants.

WHO has multiple roles within the COVAX: among other things it supports countries as they prepare to receive and administer vaccines and does so in partnership with UNICEF. It provides normative guidance on vaccine policy, regulation, safety, R&D, allocation, and country readiness and delivery. Its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization develops evidence-based immunization policy recommendations. Its Emergency Use Listing (EUL)/prequalification programmes ensure harmonized review and authorization across member states. It provides global coordination and member state support on vaccine safety monitoring. It developed the target product profiles for COVID-19 vaccines and provides R&D technical coordination. Along with COVAX partners, it is developing a no-fault compensation scheme for indemnification and liability issues. COVAX is part of the Act accelerator which WHO launched with partners in 2020.

UNICEF is leveraging its experience as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world and working with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as freight, logistics and storage. UNICEF already procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries. In collaboration with the PAHO Revolving Fund, UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and supply doses of COVID-19 vaccines for COVAX. In addition, UNICEF and WHO are working with governments around the clock to ensure that countries are ready to receive the vaccines, with appropriate cold chain equipment in place and health workers trained to dispense them. UNICEF is also playing a lead role in efforts to foster trust in vaccines, delivering vaccine confidence communications and tracking and addressing misinformation around the world.

For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Chrystel Trazié, UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire, +225 05 74 15 10 24, ctrazie@unicef.org    

Souleymane Koné, OMS Côte d’Ivoire, +225 07 07 14 83 93, koneso@who.int

Evan O’Connell, Gavi, l’Alliance du Vaccin, +33 6 17 57 21 26, eoconnell@gavi.org

Sabrina Sidhu, UNICEF New York, +1 917 4761537ssidhu@unicef.org  

Sandra Bisin, UNICEF Dakar, +221 77 819 2300, sbisin@unicef.org

Anne-Isabelle Leclercq Balde, UNICEF Dakar, +221 77 740 69 14/ +221 77 740 69 14, aleclercqbalde@unicef.org

CEPI Press Office+44 7387 055214, press@cepi.ne

Oka Saya, OMS Brazzaville, +242 06 508 10 09, okas@who.int

Diallo Kadijah, OMS Brazzaville, +242 06 474 77 92, dialloka@who.int

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