As of late August, 12.4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally in which UNICEF along with COVAX partners have played a key role in achieving this remarkable feat, says a top UNICEF official.
“COVAX, ACT-A, and many other partners continue to lead the historic effort to protect everyone – through vaccines, tests, treatments, personal protective equipment, and other tools,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.
She praised UNICEF for its role in reaching underserved communities and strengthening health systems.
Along with the COVAX partners, the largest ultra-cold chain scale-up in history was implemented- financing and delivering 800 ultra-cold chain freezers to nearly 70 countries in 2021 alone.
Notably, UNICEF also has shipped over 1.2 billion items of personal protective equipment to protect frontline and healthcare workers and others in 142 countries.
“Last month, UNICEF shipped more than 20,000 units of the COVID-19 antiviral drug, molnupiravir to Cambodia, which was the first shipment of a novel antiviral by ACT-A partners,” she added.
Ten countries have achieved 100 percent vaccination of its health care workers and coverage for other high-priority groups, including people over 60 and pregnant women, has increased.
“Of the 34 countries that were below 10% coverage at the beginning of 2022, 16 have now surpassed 10 percent coverage, and four countries have reached at least 20 percent coverage,” she further said.
Children are the biggest victims of the pandemic and its secondary impacts on children’s health, education, and well-being have been devastating.
“Data published recently by WHO and UNICEF shows that in 2021 alone, 25 million children did not receive the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis – a marker for immunization coverage in general,” she said.
There has been a sustained drop in the rates of routine childhood vaccinations in a generation– potentially wiping out 30 years of progress if we don’t get back on track.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated many tough choices. Especially in the early months, impacts on routine immunization and other child health services were hard to avoid. But the time has come to re-ignite our commitment to child health,” she noted.