WHO urges countries to plan for their national vaccination Programmes


Covid19 Vaccine to cost 3 US$ per dose for LMICs
WHO urges countries to plan for their
national vaccination Programmes
72 requests received for supply of Covid vaccine
are being processed

GENEVA (SWITZERLAND): Seventy two countries have submitted vaccine requests for supply of Covid vaccine which were looked at by the six WHO Regional offices before taking a decisions for the distribution of the available vaccine doses. It was also decided that fist the high risk population and assessment of risk of healthcare workers will be undertaken who will get the vaccine on priority basis. This was stated during a press briefing organized by WHO on February 3, 2021. It was organized in collaboration with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization, as co-leads of the COVAX initiative for equitable global access to vaccines, alongside key delivery partner UNICEF. They also shared the salient features of the WHO publication related to an interim distribution forecast.

Those who addressed the press briefing included Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Ann Lindstrand, EPI Coordinator, WHO, Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF, Dr Frederik Kristensen, Deputy CEO, CEPI while the other guests who also shared their views included Gian Gandhi, UNICEF Supply Division and Dr William Perea, WHO Team Lead, Vaccine Preventable Diseases.

This publication related to first interim distribution forecast provides information on early projected availability of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Q1-2021 and the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine candidate in first half 2021 to COVAX Facility participants. This announcement comes less than two weeks after the announcement of the signed advance purchase agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech and a little more than a month after the first COVID-19 vaccine received WHO EU approval. It was pointed out that the purpose of sharing the interim distribution with countries, even in today’s highly dynamic global supply environment, was to provide governments and health systems with the information they need to plan for their national vaccination programmes.

Experts during the press briefing highlighted the importance of continuous investment in Research & Development of vaccines which is essential to meet future emergencies. The issues related to storage of vaccine, cold chain supply were also discussed in detail. It was also pointed out that different vaccines will have different prices or different price for the same vaccine being produced at different facilities depending on the cost of production. For Pfizer vaccine, dry ice is needed for export of vaccines and countries need to have dry ice production facilities for this vaccination programme. Before delivery of the vaccine, the countries will be asked about the cold chain facilities. Safety and efficacy of all vaccines being produced by various manufacturers in various countries has to be confirmed before they are allowed to use it.

It was further stated that many new vaccines are being developed and during clinical trials currently underway their likely side effects are being monitored. Some vaccines have just been used in in vitro studies so far. It is still not clear whether one will require a booster dose and after how much time, how long the immunity lasts after vaccination, its safety has not yet been tested in pregnant women and children. Some vaccines have not been tested in elderly patients as well during the initial clinical trials.

The experts responded to various questions after their initial brief presentations. One of the participants drew their attention to non-availability of cold chain facilities in some countries hence vaccine if delivered to them will be wasted. However, it was informed that some countries have been provided with needed equipment and facilities for storage of the vaccine where it was missing hence these countries were now ready to receive the vaccine supplies.

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