Global COVID-19 vaccine effort ships over one billion doses in first year, but challenges remain – UNICEF

24th February 2022

PRESS RELEASE

Global COVID-19 vaccine effort ships over one billion doses in first year, but challenges remain – UNICEF

One year on from first COVAX delivery, people in Ireland thanked for donating over three million dose deliveries through UNICEF Ireland vaccine campaign   

UNICEF spokespeople are available for interview

Multimedia assets available for download here

DUBLIN, 24 February 2022 – One year after the delivery of the first COVID-19 vaccine as part of COVAX, the global COVID-19 vaccine effort, UNICEF Ireland has thanked people in Ireland for playing their part in the worldwide effort to ensure fair access to vaccines.

Since the first COVAX delivery to Ghana on February 24th 2021, UNICEF has delivered over 1.2 billion vaccine doses to 144 countries, and people in Ireland have contributed over three million vaccine deliveries through their donations to UNICEF Ireland’s Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine campaign.

UNICEF is leading the procurement and delivery of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines as part of the global COVAX facility, which is the only worldwide initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available globally to both higher-income and lower-income countries.

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power expressed his gratitude for the support received from people across Ireland over the last year and said the UN’s children’s agency was determined to reach even more people this year – with vaccination rates in low-income countries still as low as 12%.

“Much has been achieved in the last year, and we are incredibly thankful for the remarkable support we have received in Ireland. The level of support for UNICEF’s vaccination campaign from people in Ireland is as high as anything we have seen anywhere in the world. However, the disparities between vaccination rates in low and high-income countries are still stark. We know the job is not yet done, and there are many challenges ahead. COVAX is the largest vaccination effort ever attempted and many of the most vulnerable countries heavily rely on COVAX as their primary source of vaccines. The deep divide in vaccination rates is just not right and low vaccination rates continue to leave vulnerable people across the world at the mercy of COVID-19. COVAX gives us a way to ensure fair access for everyone and we are more determined than ever to play our part,” he said.

On February 24th 2021, the first COVAX delivery arrived in Ghana and Mr. Power said despite initial challenges the global rollout is now gathering pace and vaccine supplies are increasing. “COVAX is a vaccine lifeline for the most vulnerable countries. UNICEF’s deliveries so far have meant millions of healthcare workers and vulnerable people, in some of the world’s least developed countries, have received the protection they need. Of course, COVAX has also had to overcome substantial challenges along the way. Initially last year, COVAX faced severe supply shortages, due in large part to much of the early global supply being bought by wealthy nations. However, UNICEF has now shipped over one billion vaccines and thanks to efforts to resolve bottlenecks with manufacturers and donated doses from well-supplied governments, vaccines are now becoming increasingly available to COVAX. The main question now is not supply, but how we can work with countries across the world to get vaccines into arms as fast as possible.”

According to UNICEF, its COVAX supply operation requires a complex integration of procurement expertise, quality control, transport logistics, cold chain technology and credibility with Governments across the world to deliver on this groundbreaking program. “As the largest purchaser and distributor of vaccines in the world for many years, our systems were designed for this operation. Before the pandemic, UNICEF procured and delivered over two billion vaccines for children throughout the world each year and we have now doubled that capacity. We must do everything we can to bring the pandemic to an end. For children in low-income countries, the ongoing impact of the pandemic is devastating. It means more school closures. It means more missed vaccinations. It means worsening mental health. And it means more vulnerability to child marriage, child labour and violence,” said Mr. Power.

On top of the support from the public in Ireland, the Irish Government, through Irish Aid has committed €8.5 million in funding to the COVAX facility, and donated over five million vaccine doses via both COVAX and bilateral agreements.

With just 7.8% of people in low-income countries having had a complete initial protocol of vaccines* compared to 73% in high-income countries, UNICEF Ireland is urging people and companies in Ireland to continue to support UNICEF’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign by donating today at www.unicef.ie

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ENDS

Notes to the editor

Multimedia assets available for download here

Find the latest data on COVAX deliveries here

*Vaccination figures cited as per Our World in Data on February 23rd

UNICEF Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign

UNICEF Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign offers people in Ireland an opportunity to come together in support of global vaccine equity – taking part is an act of solidarity. UNICEF is leading the largest-ever vaccine procurement and supply operation on behalf of the COVAX Facility, a global effort led by ACT-A partners Gavi, WHO and CEPI to aid equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, targeting 92 low and middle-income countries, amongst 190 members. To donate visit unicef.ie

About COVAX  

COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Acceleratoris co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, 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.

UNICEF was asked to join COVAX by partners WHO, Gavi The Vaccine Alliance, and CEPI in 2020, due to its expertise in procuring half the world’s vaccines for children under 5 every year.

After GAVI, the WHO or countries have paid for the vaccine doses themselves, €5 allows UNICEF to deliver two doses of COVID-19 vaccine from the point of arrival in-country to the individual, in countries facing humanitarian crisis.

ABOUT UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.ie

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For more information, please contact:

Danny Smits, UNICEF Ireland, +353 87 1308070, danny@unicef.ie