“The COVAX platform is an extraordinary human effort to stem and defeat the pandemic, we participate in it because it has a very important impact on global public health”
COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility) is an initiative for the equitable distribution of vaccines around the world. It is co-led by the Gavi Alliance (Public-Private Vaccine Alliance) together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations). UNICEF also participates as a partner for logistics. COVAX is one of the three pillars of the ACT program – Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a global cooperation programme launched in April 2020 by WHO to accelerate the development, production and fair distribution of diagnostic tests, treatments and COVID-19 vaccines.
Specifically, the initiative aims to provide middle and low-income states with access to vaccines from various manufacturers, regardless of their purchasing power. COVAX’s objective is, in the short term, to provide these countries with doses of the vaccine to cover 20% of the population. In the long term, leaving in those countries an established system that can, independently or with the help of new donors, go ahead with the coverage of the remaining 80% of the population, following a validated and tested vaccination plan. COVAX platform is funded by public and private donors, philanthropic bodies and non-governmental organizations.
What’s the role of INTERSOS within the COVAX initiative
Helping the most fragile countries – affected by wars, violence or natural disasters – to cope with the pandemic is also a priority objective for INTERSOS, which is why we immediately made available our medical teams and our staff, in the countries where we operate, to work alongside local governments and the United Nations and vaccinate the population groups most at risk.
We have offered our collaboration for various activities: the management of the cold chain necessary for the conservation of vaccines; the management and distribution of vaccines both in urban contexts and in remote or hard-to-reach areas; training of local health workers; the involvement and awareness of local communities; support for communication campaigns to combat vaccine disinformation.
In Nigeria, the intervention has already started. Our health workers are at the forefront to support the vaccination campaign in Borno State, the state in the North-East of the country marked by a long conflict and one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world. In particular, from 21 March, technical and logistical support activities were launched for the campaign coordinated by the Nigerian Ministry of Health to organize the distribution of vaccines provided through the COVAX initiative. The first phase of the intervention involved the distribution of 75 thousand doses of the vaccine to the categories indicated by the government as priorities: health workers, frontline workers and refueling station workers. Following the groups most at risk of the population to cover 20% of the total inhabitants of that territory.
Countries involved in the vaccination campaign
INTERSOS next steps in the COVAX vaccination campaign are expected in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we have given our willingness to intervene. But potentially there are many countries in which we could be able to give support in the coming months. In fact, Chad, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, South Sudan and Yemen are also part of the COVAX platform, all countries in which we carry out social-health, psychological or legal assistance projects and we can provide operators in the field.
“The COVAX platform is an extraordinary human effort to stem and defeat the pandemic. As INTERSOS we have decided to participate in this initiative that has a very important impact on global public health“, underlines Andrea Accardi, INTERSOS COVAX Task Force coordinator. “In a single day, one of our nurses vaccinated 67 midwives who not only will not infect any mother or child during their work but will not burden a fragile health system that can therefore take care of other pathologies“.