New Delhi, February 24: India on Wednesday dispatched the first batch of six lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses to the African country of Ghana under the COVAX facility in collaboration with the UNICEF, which aims to cover 92 countries under the initiative.
The doses are a part of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine the country is acquiring through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX), which Ghana among nearly 92 countries have signed into.
Speaking to PTI, Yasmine Ali Haque, Representative, UNICEF India, said that six lakh doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) were sent to Ghana from Pune, via Mumbai and Dubai.
“The doses arrived in Ghana at noon, Indian time. In the coming week, Cote d’Ivoire, a country in western Africa, will also get it in the coming days. Out of the 92 countries, which are the beneficiaries of the COVAX facility, 85 are low-income and middle-income countries.
“It is the beginning of our aim to deliver two billion doses to around 100 countries around the world. By March, we aim to deliver 80 million doses and by December, two billion should be delivered across the world. Our target is especially the low-income and middle-income countries and to protect frontline and healthcare workers as well as high risk and vulnerable people,” Haque told PTI.
She said that UNICEF also aims to deliver up to one billion syringes by year-end across the world and 520 million syringes will come from the stockpile UNICEF created in 2020, while the rest will be delivered direct from the manufacturer to the countries.
Haque, however, could not name which country will receive the next consignment of the vaccine due to non-availability of the list with her.
As part of the COVAX facility, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is leading efforts, in collaboration with Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Revolving Fund, to procure and supply COVID-19 vaccine doses for these countries on behalf of the COVAX facility.
Of these, PAHO will be procuring and supplying doses to 10 nations in Latin America, which are Bolivia, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, an official source said.
“UNICEF is closely working with vaccine manufacturers since November 2020 to ensure the vaccines are delivered in a safe manner and we also ensure communication with communities and work on ground to support national governments,” Haque said, adding that India is also one of the beneficiaries under the COVAX facility. (PTI)