Sierra Leone + 1 more

Sierra Leone receives 151,200 J&J COVID-19 vaccines donated by US Govt. via COVAX Facility

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Freetown, Tuesday, 7th September 2021 --** The United States Government has donated 151,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to Sierra Leone to help accelerate the current COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country.

The United States has made this donation through the COVAX facility, a global coalition co-led by the WHO, Gavi, the Global Vaccines Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, and others on the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to countries regardless of their income.

This brings to 838 000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which have been received by Sierra Leone under the COVAX facility since the country rolled out COVID-19 vaccinations in March this year.

Dr Austin Demby, Minister of Health and Sanitation, said "The Government appreciate the substantial support of donated vaccines from the Government of the United States. This will contribute immensely towards accomplishing vaccine equity in Sierra Leone and the Government will make certain that more people will be vaccinated in the shortest possible time."

The donation of Johnson & Johnson vaccines to Sierra Leone is part of the U.S. government's global vaccine-sharing strategy, which aims to support countries most affected by the pandemic and is part of the broader support by the U.S. Government to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.

"We are proud to support COVAX's commitment to rapidly and equitably save lives and bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. The delivery of 151,200 Johnson & Johnson doses to Sierra Leone is an important step toward that goal," said USA Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E. David Reimer.

The COVAX Facility has been instrumental in supporting low and middle-income countries to access COVID-19 vaccines and supporting governments with the development of national vaccination plans, cold chain infrastructure and related operational equipment, logistical materials, and medical supplies to facilitate smooth implementation of vaccination activities.

Through this facility, Sierra Leone has so far received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines, which arrived in March and August. These vaccines, together with the consignment of vaccines received through other arrangement by the Government of Sierra Leone, have helped reach more than 264,256 adults with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines, while more than 64,749 have since received their second doses as of the first week of September 2021. This continued flow of vaccines into the country is welcome as it helps to sustain the current intensified vaccination drive, which has also opened vaccination to all adults above the age of 18 years.

"We are delighted to see U.S.-donated J&J doses arriving in Sierra Leone. This shipment will provide protection from COVID-19 for over 150,000 people, helping to stem the tide. 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." Patience Musanhu, Senior Country Manager.

The Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccines have been approved by the WHO as effective in protecting people against COVID-19. This arrival of the vaccines to Sierra Leone is timely as demand for vaccine is steadily increasing in Sierra Leone

With less than 2 percent of eligible adults currently being fully vaccinated in Sierra Leone, these additional vaccines will serve to fill in the current gaps. Within the coming weeks, the United States Government, through COVAX dose-sharing mechanism, intends to deliver another batch of COVID-19 vaccines to the country.

"Over the past one month, we have seen remarkable improvement and momentum at all levels of strategic partnership and cooperation in enhancing vaccine equity, national strategies in vaccine administration, and increased interest in vaccine uptake by the eligible members of the public. This is an important moment to strengthen our collaboration and support to the government to reach the vaccination targets and goals and protect the population against this pandemic", said Dr Steven V. Shongwe, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.

UNICEF is leading the procurement and delivery of the various COVID-19 vaccines reaching Sierra Leone through the COVAX facility. Further to this logistics support, UNICEF continues to support the Government of Sierra Leone's vaccine rollout exercise through planning, cold chain management, demand generation, and capacity building of health workers.

"The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis can only be tackled when the world acts together as one," said UNICEF Representative, (acting in charge) Ms. Liv Elin Indreiten. "UNICEF is therefore proud to be part of this global partnership to help people across Sierra Leone receive the vaccines and remain protected from serious illness or death due to COVID-19."

COVAX has built a diverse portfolio of vaccines suitable for a range of settings and populations, and is on track to meet its goal of delivering at least 2 billion doses of vaccine to participating countries around the globe in 2021, including at least 1.3 billion donor-funded doses to the 92 lower-income COVAX Facility participants supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC. 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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For more information, please contact:

GoSL: MoHS and NaCOVERC\ Harold Thomas: +23276602460 health.education@mohs.gov.sl\ Solomon Jamiru Esq. solomonamiru@yahoo.com

The U.S. Embassy Media contact.\ Alhassan Jalloh - Information Media Assistant - Embassy of the United States of America in Freetown Southridge - Hill Station, Freetown, Sierra Leone | +232.(0)99 905-085 | jallohA@state.gov

UNICEF\ Tapuwa Loreen Mutseyekwa, +23276100532, tmutseyekwa@unicef.org

**World Health Organization **\ Saffea Gborie, +232-76 777878, gboriesa@who.int

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 Gavi) 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 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 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 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.

For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube

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.