WHO and partners prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout, a potential spike in infections
WHO and partners are refining their COVID 19 strategy, including case management: Photo: WHO Yemen has applied to the COVAX initiative implemented by WHO, GAVI and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to receive about 14 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to cover the initial needs of 23% of the population of Yemen. The vaccines will be delivered progressively throughout 2021. The first allocation of 2.3 million doses has been confirmed and should be available in the next weeks. The COVAX initiative is meant to support all governorates of Yemen as per defined needs and population targeting. Operational planning is already underway.
As part of its overall support to the COVID-19 national response, WHO will provide technical support to deploy COVID-19 vaccines received from COVAX or bilateral agreements. WHO will also provide advisory on vaccines' safety and efficacy irrespective of procurement source as available.
Meanwhile, to better assess the COVID-19 situation in the country, WHO has conducted a seroprevalence study in Aden, and the results will be announced in the coming few weeks. Health partners on the ground are continually working towards increasing surveillance, deploying dedicated COVID-19 staff within agencies, tracking the virus's impact on routine priority health programmes, refining messaging to encourage behavioural change, and boosting intensive care unit (ICU) capacity. WHO is preparing for a potential spike in cases by refining its response strategies, including surveillance, contact tracing, risk communications,technical guidance and training, case testing and verification, and provision of medical devices and supplies.
In partnership with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief), WHO is working with the Ministry of Public Health and Population to enable rapid detection and response to COVID-19 cases and clusters, including through an integrated, multisectoral coordination system at central and governorate levels and support to emergency operation centres (EOCs) across the country. Twenty-six main entry points to Yemen will be equipped to enable rapid COVID-19 detection.
The joint project will also enhance the testing capacity of central public health laboratories throughout the country and support the prevention of COVID-19 transmission in health and nonhealth settings. Multifaceted support to health facilities will improve their capacity to receive COVD-19 patients by providing medical supplies and equipment and case management training for health workers.
Through the Yemen Covid-19 Response Project, WHO and the World Bank are working together to help Yemen respond and mitigate the risks associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. The project focuses on supporting case management in isolation units and central public health laboratories' diagnostic capacity. It also includes infection prevention and control, personal protection equipment, supplies and equipment, and support to surveillance and rapid-response teams.
As health partners remain concerned that COVID19 figures in Yemen are underestimated for various reasons, including weak testing capacities, WHO the Islamic Development Bank are working together to expand laboratory testing capacity via the provision of 150,000 testing kits. The partnership also aims to improve the preparedness of 32 COVID-19 treatment centres across Yemen by providing essential equipment, supplies and medicines to facilitate the treatment of critical COVID-19 patients.
The partnership will also support the laboratory testing capacity of two medical universities in the country.