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UNICEF wants vaccine delivery sped up, simplified
“At the current rate, there is simply not enough vaccine supply to meet demand. And the supply available is concentrated in the hands of too few. Some countries have contracted enough doses to vaccinate their populations several times, while other countries have yet to receive even their first dose,” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.
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UNICEF wants vaccine delivery sped up, simplified

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - April 9, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With available vaccines not enough to meet demand and the supply concentrated in the hands of “too few,” the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is calling for “speed” and “simplicity” to remove barriers to acquisition, manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally.

“At the current rate, there is simply not enough vaccine supply to meet demand. And the supply available is concentrated in the hands of too few. Some countries have contracted enough doses to vaccinate their populations several times, while other countries have yet to receive even their first dose,” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.

Fore warned of a massive global setback as COVID-19 variants are emerging all over the world.

UNICEF said governments, businesses and partners should take three urgent actions: simplify Intellectual Property Rights through voluntary and proactive licensing by IPR holders; end vaccine nationalism; and for governments to immediately loan, release or donate most or all excess contracted doses for 2021 to COVAX.

“Governments that have contracted to receive more ‘future doses’ than required to vaccinate their entire adult populations this year, should immediately loan, release or donate most or all excess contracted doses for 2021 to COVAX, so they can be allocated equitably among other countries,” she said.

IPR holders, Fore said, would need to provide technology partnerships to accompany IP licenses, and proactively share know-how and sub-contract to manufacturers without undue geographic or volume restrictions. This challenge requires not forced IP waivers but proactive partnership and cooperation.

She added that recent manufacturing partnerships such as Pfizer-BioNtech; AZ-SII, J&J- Merck and J&J-Aspen are encouraging examples.

“We need to end vaccine nationalism. Governments should remove direct and indirect export- and import-control measures that block, restrict or slow down exports of COVID-19 vaccines, ingredients and supplies,” Fore said.

“Viruses respect no borders. Defeating COVID-19 in each of our home countries also means defeating it around the world by ensuring a steady flow of vaccines and supplies to all,” she added.

Fore stated that countries with sufficient, current supply of manufactured doses should consider donating at least five percent of their available manufactured doses right away, and commit to making further contributions on a continued, rolling basis throughout the year, scaling up their contributions in line with rising supply.

Confirming these dose-sharing commitments now will enhance predictability, accelerate equitable access, and help stabilize the global vaccine market.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear to us all that no one is safe until everyone is safe. But equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is within our grasp. We have proven that the world can rally to do the unthinkable, and we need to do it again,” Fore said. “The sooner we do, the sooner our lives, and the lives of our children, will go back to normal.”

In a related development, Sen. Francis Pangilinan appealed to the World Health Organization (WHO) to put the Philippines on top of the list of beneficiaries in its COVAX facility and deliver the urgently needed vaccines to help avert the collapse of the country’s healthcare system.

“Covid-19 is spreading like wildfire and overwhelming our health care capacity. We trust that the international community will live up to its commitment to treat vaccinations as a global public good, and ensure affordable, equitable, and fair access to vaccines for all,” Pangilinan said.

Lagging in its COVID-19 response, the Philippines is experiencing the biggest surges in COVID-19 cases, after failing to do free mass testing and tracing despite having one of the longest and strictest lockdowns. As of April 7, the country has recorded 819,164 total COVID-19 cases, 158,701 active cases, and 14,059 deaths.

He also urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to aggressively negotiate with WHO for an earlier delivery of vaccines and stave off a humanitarian crisis.

“People, including our senior citizens, go to vaccination sites but go home without getting the jab because there are no more vaccines. This is how dire our situation is,” he said. – Cecille Suerte Felipe

COVID-19 VACCINE
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