More than 355,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines shipped by COVAX arrive in Niger

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© Frank Dejongh

NIAMEY (Niger), 14 April 2021 – More than 355,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines shipped by COVAX arrived in Niamey, Niger. This batch is part of a first wave that will continue in the coming weeks. A total of 1,596,000 doses are expected to arrive in the country through this mechanism.

The vaccine doses were received at Niamey international airport by the Minister of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs, Dr Illiassou Idi Mainassara, accompanied by members of the COVAX Facility – GAVI, CEPI, WHO and UNICEF – in addition to the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Niger and the ambassadors of the European Union and its member states, the Ambassador of the United States, the Ambassador of the United Kingdom, the Representative of the World Bank - whose funding enabled manufacturing, transport and distribution of the vaccine or support the implementation of the vaccination campaign in Niger.

"The Government of Niger has placed the vaccines to the top of its priorities to protect its population, in a global context where the pandemic continues to wreak havoc. These first doses of vaccines will primarily target the frontline workers such as health workers, teachers and those at greatest risk of contracting the disease," said Dr Illiassou Idi Mainassara, Minister of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs.

With the support of its partners, including GAVI, WHO, the World Bank, USAID and UNICEF, the Ministry of Health will support the health personnel and social mobilizers to carry out the campaign in the country.

"While vaccines are important, respecting barrier gestures - including handwashing, wearing masks and physical distancing - remains the best way to stem the spread of the pandemic," recalled Dr Illiassou Idi Mainassara.

COVAX is co-led by the Gavi Alliance, the Coalition for Innovations in Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) and WHO. It aims to provide at least 2 billion doses of vaccines that have received the WHO Emergency Use Authorization (EUL) by the end of 2021.

Quotes from Donors and Partners

Ms. Louise Aubin, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Niger: "Let us recognize that today we are living an historic moment, as we have taken an important step in the fight against Covid-19 in Niger. This is the place for me to express my sincere thanks to the Nigerien government for the efforts made to accelerate the reception of the first batches of COVAX vaccines to protect the most-at-risk populations."

HE Dr. Denisa-Elena IONETE, Ambassador of the European Union in Niger: "The arrival of these first doses of vaccines through the COVAX mechanism, testifies to international solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. If the vaccine is available today, it is because the partners mobilized to support the research and development of the vaccine from the start of the pandemic, a year ago, and now are funding the provision of 3 billion doses vaccine for 20% of the population of 92 low- and middle-income countries, including Niger.

This global collaboration is supported by Team Europe, i.e. the European Union, its member states and the European Investment Bank together, which contribute to this initiative with more than 2.2 billion euros. In addition, Team Europe also contributes to global initiatives to strengthen health systems in these countries, notably through funding from the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and also through the financing of projects and programs in the health sector."

HE M. Eric P. Whitaker, US Ambassador to Niger: "The US government has injected $ 2 billion into this global effort and plans to add $ 2 billion more. Supporting Niger's efforts in the fight against COVID -19 through the COVAX facility is a testament to our long-standing public health cooperation and partnership with Niger, which we have built over more than 60 years. Beating the pandemic is a global challenge, and the United States are working both internally and abroad to stop the spread of the disease."

HE Ms Catherine Inglehearn, Ambassador of the United Kingdom: "No one is safe until we are all safe. Concerted international action is the only way to end the pandemic. This is why we are backing COVAX's commitment to the Anticipated Market (AMC) with funding of £ 548 million, so that as many people as possible can be protected from COVID-19, prioritizing most vulnerable populations, including those in hard-to-reach areas. We have supported the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine, medical treatments and tests, and their distribution in developing countries with additional funding of £ 829 million. We also help fund the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. We are proud to see the positive impact of these programs in Niger."

Ms Joelle Dehasse, Representative of the World Bank: "The arrival of this new batch of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX initiative is an excellent news for Niger. The deployment of these vaccines will ensure better protection for vulnerable groups, strengthen the country's resilience and revive economic activities more quickly. In this context, World Bank funding support will allow the government to distribute vaccines and strengthen immunization systems."

Dr Blanche Anya, WHO Representative in Niger: "These doses of vaccines arriving in Niger through the COVAX Mechanism aim to vaccinate the most at-risk populations, i.e. health workers, Defense and Security Forces, people over 60 years old. That represents 20% of the country's population. It will be a big step forward when we finish vaccinating these people. But we will have to go beyond to vaccinate the rest of the population. I encourage each of us to continue to observe barrier gestures."

M. Aboubacry Tall, UNICEF Representative a.i. in Niger: "The only way out of this pandemic for any of us, is to ensure vaccinations are available for all of us. So that every health worker, every teacher and every social worker providing essential services for children can be vaccinated as soon as possible. Because we cannot allow the fight against one deadly disease to cause us to lose ground in the fight against others. We are together. And this is how we will win."

For more information, please contact:

  • Dr Hassan Abdoul Nasser, **Director of Immunization, Ministry of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs, **+227 96 05 48 90
  • **Mahamidou Illo, Director of Information and Public Relations, **Ministry of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs, +227 96 56 02 30

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