NEW YORK: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Thursday, September 3, said that 28 drug manufacturers in 10 countries can produce unprecedented amounts of COVID-19 vaccine over the next two years to fight the ongoing pandemic. The United Nations agency announced that it would assist in procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally.
The role of UNICEF is part of the COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan, called COVAX, which is co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), and is aimed at buying and providing equal access to COVID-19 shots. Till date, 76 countries have committed to join the COVAX initiative.
UNICEF reported that 28 manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines had shared their annual production plans through 2023. A market assessment by UNICEF indicated that manufacturers are willing to produce unprecedented amounts of vaccines collectively over the next 1-2 years. However, the drug makers have stated that the projections are largely dependent upon other factors including the success of clinical trials, advance procurement agreements being put in place, confirmation of funding and streamlining of regulatory and registration processes.
Safe and effective vaccines are seen as the key to end a pandemic that has so far taken lives of more than 864,000 people worldwide.
The new role of UNICEF with COVAX originates from its identity as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world. The UN agency reported that it purchases more than 2 billion doses of vaccines on an annual basis for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of almost 100 countries.