UNICEF begins supplying Indian COVID vaccines under COVAX initiative

New Delhi, Feb 25 (FN Agency) The World Health Organization’s (WHO) global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX has begun its journey from India, with UNICEF shipping vaccine doses of the Serum Institute of India’s AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to several low and lower-middle income countries. As per reports, tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines were shipped under the COVAX agreement to UNICEF designated countries.

UNICEF India Representative Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, who visited the Serum Institute of India, Pune on Wednesday to observe the initial shipping operations of the COVAX vaccines to Mumbai under the COVAX partnership, termed it as a “landmark achievement”. “I visited the Serum Institute of India to observe the initial shipping operations of the vaccines through the COVAX partnership. Truly inspiring! The shipment of the first batch of COVID vaccines from India through the COVAX Facility is historic!,” said Dr Haque. He further said that it is a major step in the global effort to beat this pandemic and a landmark achievement towards global equitable access to these lifesaving vaccines.

Notably, India’s manufacturing base is playing a critical role to close the gap between rich and poor countries, and in ensuring that vaccines are produced and rolled out to low and lower middle-income countries around the world. From Mumbai, the vaccines will be shipped to 82 low- and lower middle-income countries participating in the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility, co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO, together with UNICEF, aims to provide at least 2 billion doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021, enabling participating economies to protect frontline health care and social workers, as well as other high-risk and vulnerable groups. India has not only proved its technological prowess as a pharmaceutical major, but the gesture of manufacturing and giving to the world while also dealing with its own population establishes India as a development partner of poor countries.