This story was posted with permission from Church Newsroom
The global effort to distribute 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines to at-risk populations around the world has reached 121 countries and territories. Latter-day Saint Charities, the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is helping to support this effort with a US$20 million grant to UNICEF for its role in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and the vaccines arm of the ACT Accelerator, called the COVAX Facility
COVAX is a global effort among the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; UNICEF; the Pan American Health Organization; and the World Health Organization (WHO). The initiative provides an equitable rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to people from vulnerable communities.
“It is unprecedented in the history of the world where partners have come together to make this happen and to bring a vaccine which is going to be lifesaving to countries all over the world,” said Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF’s representative in India.
India is among the many countries still experiencing intense transmission of the coronavirus, according to WHO.
This week marks World Immunization Week, which runs from April 24 to April 30, 2021. It is celebrated every April and promotes the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.
The first international delivery of 600,000 vaccines reached Ghana in February. Since April 23, 2021, the one-year anniversary of the launch of the ACT Accelerator, over 49 million vaccine doses have been shipped around the world. The vaccines, supplied by the COVAX Facility and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, were shipped to the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana’s capital.
“On behalf of UNICEF, I also want to thank the donors that have contributed to this facility,” said Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF’s representative in Ghana. “These vaccines are going to have a positive impact in the lives of Ghanaians, and people will gradually go back to a more normal situation. And children will also benefit.”
“We have just received the first stop of the COVID-19 vaccines,” said Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF representative in South Sudan. “This is targeting mostly the frontline health workers and also the people who are living with underlying conditions. This is just the beginning. It is the first consignment.”
“I am feeling that this is a new chapter. Still, we do not have the cure for COVID, but this is … very good progress. And it’s good for the people of South Sudan,” expressed Ayub Asobasi, UNICEF South Sudan logistics officer.
“UNICEF used its strength in procurement and transport to bring the vaccines near to Kenya so that these can be further distributed and the vaccination campaign can start,” explained Maniza Zaman, UNICEF’s representative in Kenya, as coolers containing the precious cargo were transported to awaiting recipients.
“The boxes … are going to be dispatched to 10 districts, and we’ll be sending them off as a combined package of vaccines, syringes and the safety boxes that are used to dispose of used syringes,” described Bade Babu Thapa, senior pharmacy officer at the Central Vaccine Store in Kenya.
“We’re leaving no one behind,” said Dufay.