Joint Press Release\ Freetown, Monday, 13th September 2021 -- The United States Government, through the COVAX Facility, has boosted the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive in Sierra Leone, with a donation of 113,490 doses of the Pfizer vaccines. This generous contribution from the US Government comes within a week of Sierra Leone receiving consignments of 151,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which were also supplied by the United States Government through the global COVID-19 equity scheme's dose-sharing mechanism, COVAX.
Since March this year, the COVAX Facility has been instrumental in ensuring that COVID-19 vaccines are available in Sierra Leone to protect people at risk of the disease from falling seriously ill or dying from it. To date, more than 288,384 adults have received their first shots of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 69,880 have already received a second dose.
"The people of Sierra Leone are grateful to the Government and people of the United States for their unstinting support of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility. The arrival of these additional vaccines is a demonstration of the longstanding relationship between our two countries and our determination towards ending the COVID-19 pandemic. These vaccines will significantly increase our National vaccine uptake," remarked the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Austin Demby.
This donation of the Pfizer vaccine is part of the United States Government's global contribution to multilateral efforts established to address COVID-19 infections and to help end the pandemic. This contribution to Sierra Leone means more people will be able to access vaccines, especially at this moment when a second national surge vaccination exercise is being planned following the successes of the first vaccination surge in order reach more people with the COVID-19 Vaccines. The Government of Sierra Leone has extended the eligibility age of those who can be vaccinated -- to date, anyone over eighteen years of age are able to be protected against COVID-19 through vaccination.
Through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Sierra Leone has also received support in COVID-19 vaccine deployment, including cold chain strengthening and social mobilization and awareness raising efforts to help create demand for the vaccines. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has worked with partners to develop training materials and performance support for COVID-19 vaccine implementation, develop workforce performance indicators, and coordinate efforts to support COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
During the handing over ceremony, U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer, noted that "The arrival of the Pfizer vaccines today is a further testament to the United States' commitment to standing together with the people and government of Sierra Leone to address shared global challenges".
In addition to supporting countries with the purchase of vaccines, the COVAX Facility co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has been instrumental in supporting low- and middle-income countries with the development of national vaccination plans, enhancement of cold chain infrastructure, and provision of logistical materials and medical supplies to facilitate smooth implementation of vaccination activities.
COVAX partners such as the United States Government share their vaccines and help secure full funding for this global initiative to reach more people in need of protection across the globe.
"We are delighted to see U.S.-donated Pfizer vaccine doses arriving in Sierra Leone. COVAX is committed to ending the acute phase of the pandemic, and the strong support of the United States Government is crucial in getting us there," said Patience Musanhu, Gavi's Senior Country Manager for Sierra Leone.
The Pfizer vaccine is one of seven vaccines which are approved for use by the WHO in protecting people against COVID-19. Two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have been found by health experts to be effective in providing adults with the required protection from COVID-19 illness or death.
With less than two percent of eligible adults that currently fully vaccinated in Sierra Leone, these additional vaccines will help to meet urgent needs.
"We are encouraged by the accelerated efforts of the government and its different partners to vaccinate as many people as possible in order to attain the country's vaccination target as set out in the revised National COVID-19 Response Plan. Increasing solid investments in preventive interventions including getting more people vaccinated, and intensifying awareness and adherence to the other public health measures are important in flattening the epidemic curves", said Dr Steven V. Shongwe, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.
As a key COVAX partner, UNICEF is leading the procurement and supply of vaccines. Further to this logistics support, UNICEF continues to support the Government of Sierra Leone's vaccine rollout exercise particularly in planning, cold chain management, demand generation, and capacity building of health workers in effective vaccine management.
"COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been an unprecedented initiative in its scale and reach, one of the largest undertakings that UNICEF has involved globally in this year. We heartily appreciate the strong partnership built among the Government, donors and other stakeholders behind this initiative," said UNICEF Representative, Dr. Suleiman Braimoh. "It remains a focus of our work to ensure continuity in delivery of essential services to ensure the survival, growth and development of every child, even during this period of a pandemic."
COVAX has built a diverse portfolio of vaccines suitable for a range of settings and populations and has delivered 240 million doses to 139 countries in just six months. Its goal of delivering at least 2 billion doses of vaccine to participating countries around the globe, including at least 1.3 billion donor-funded doses to the 92 lower-income COVAX Facility participants supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC, is expected to be reached in the first quarter of 2022. The United States is the largest contributor to COVAX.
Officials from the Government of Sierra Leone, U.S. Embassy, United Nations Agencies including the World Health Organization and UNICEF and several health developments partners, attended the ceremonial handover of the vaccines to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
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About COVAX\ COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO) -- working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.
CEPI is focused on the COVAX vaccine research and development portfolio: investing in R&D across a variety of promising candidates, with the goal to support development of three safe and effective vaccines which can be made available to countries participating in the COVAX Facility. As part of this work, CEPI has secured first right of refusal to potentially over one billion doses for the COVAX Facility to a number of candidates, and made strategic investments in vaccine manufacturing, which includes reserving capacity to manufacture doses of COVAX vaccines at a network of facilities, and securing glass vials to hold 2 billion doses of vaccine. CEPI is also investing in the 'next generation' of vaccine candidates, which will give the world additional options to control COVID-19 in the future.
Gavi is focused on procurement and delivery for COVAX: coordinating the design, implementation and administration of the COVAX Facility and the Gavi COVAX AMC and working with its Alliance partners UNICEF and WHO, along with governments, on country readiness and delivery. The COVAX Facility is the global pooled procurement mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through which COVAX will ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for all 190 participating economies, using an allocation framework formulated by WHO. The COVAX Facility will do this by pooling buying power from participating economies and providing volume guarantees across a range of promising vaccine candidates. The Gavi COVAX AMC is the financing mechanism that will support the participation of 92 low- and middle-income countries in the Facility, enabling access to donor-funded doses of safe and effective vaccines. Gavi is fundraising for the COVAX AMC, and funding UNICEF procurement of vaccines as well as partners' and governments work on readiness and delivery, including support cold chain equipment, technical assistance, syringes, vehicles, and other aspects of the vastly complex logistical operation for delivery. UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) will be acting as procurement coordinators for the COVAX Facility, helping deliver vaccines to COVAX AMC participants and others.
WHO has multiple roles within data=04%7C01%7Cmsharafudeen [at] gavi.org%7C1cf502ad59ff4172277108d8d7dc83bf%7C1de6d9f30daf4df6b9d65959f16f6118%7C0%7C0%7C637496689410965976%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=unu%2BsH6oyV1oCvkYUwS0n%2BiK%2BKhzrjmWY9ZSq9c5QFI%3D&reserved=0" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline">COVAX: It provides normative guidance on vaccine policy, regulation, safety, R&D, allocation, and country readiness and delivery. Its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization develops evidence-based immunization policy recommendations. Its Emergency Use Listing (EUL)/prequalification programmes ensure harmonized review and authorization across member states. It provides global coordination and member state support on vaccine safety monitoring. It developed the target product profiles for COVID-19 vaccines and provides R&D technical coordination. WHO leads, along with UNICEF, the support to countries as they prepare to receive and administer vaccines. The data=04%7C01%7Cmsharafudeen [at] gavi.org%7C1cf502ad59ff4172277108d8d7dc83bf%7C1de6d9f30daf4df6b9d65959f16f6118%7C0%7C0%7C637496689410975970%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=wtW1wCuTazQ1tSA0jFln%2Bo9lXf4p%2B%2BCPNs%2BIq%2F9Jm90%3D&reserved=0" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline">Country Readiness and Delivery (CRD) workstream includes Gavi and numerous other partners working at the global, regional, and country-level to provide tools, guidance, monitoring, and on the ground technical assistance for the planning and roll-out of the data=04%7C01%7Cmsharafudeen [at] gavi.org%7C1cf502ad59ff4172277108d8d7dc83bf%7C1de6d9f30daf4df6b9d65959f16f6118%7C0%7C0%7C637496689410975970%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=LBZgaRtn3S30%2FWBEGq1kyAgRs%2BMp2diUuxTTQkBPcwU%3D&reserved=0" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline">vaccines. Along with COVAX partners, WHO is also developing a no-fault compensation scheme as part of the time-limited indemnification and liability commitments.
UNICEF is leveraging its experience as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world and working with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as freight, logistics and storage. UNICEF already procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries. In collaboration with the PAHO Revolving Fund, UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and supply doses of COVID-19 vaccines for COVAX. In addition, UNICEF, Gavi and WHO are working with governments around the clock to ensure that countries are ready to receive the vaccines, with appropriate cold chain equipment in place and health workers trained to dispense them. UNICEF is also playing a lead role in efforts to foster trust in vaccines, delivering vaccine confidence communications and tracking and addressing misinformation around the world.
About CEPI\ CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. CEPI has moved with great urgency and in coordination with WHO in response to the emergence of COVID-19. CEPI has initiated ten partnerships to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus. The programmes are leveraging rapid response platforms already supported by CEPI as well as new partnerships.
Before the emergence of COVID-19, CEPI's priority diseases included Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever and Chikungunya virus. CEPI also invested in platform technologies that can be used for rapid vaccine and immunoprophylactic development against unknown pathogens (Disease X).
About Gavi\ Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world's children against some of the world's deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation -- over 822 million children -- and prevented more than 14 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation and reaching the unvaccinated children still being left behind, employing innovative finance and the latest technology -- from drones to biometrics -- to save millions more lives, prevent outbreaks before they can spread and help countries on the road to self-sufficiency. Learn more at www.gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organizations that fund Gavi's work here.
About WHO\ The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.
About UNICEF\ UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.unicef.org/coronavirus . Find out more about UNICEF's work on the COVID-19 vaccines here, or about UNICEF's work on immunization here.\ Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook.
About the ACT-Accelerator\ The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, is a new, ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.
The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organisation, but works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organisations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organisations which are tackling the world's toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it.
The ACT-Accelerator has four areas of work: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and the health system connector. Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation.
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