Afghanistan on Monday received a shipment of COVID-19 vaccine facilitated by COVAX (Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access), a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF and the WHO.
This is the second shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine, following India's shipment of 500,000 doses.
COVAX shipped 468,000 doses of the COVISHIELD vaccine, from the Astra Zeneca Serum Institute of India, in Mumbai. It arrived at the Kabul international airport on Monday, via an Emirates flight, said a statement by UNICEF.
"Afghanistan is the first country in Central Asia to receive the vaccine via the COVAX – the facility that is set to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021," according to the statement.
In addition to 468,000 doses of vaccines, 470,000 syringes and 4,700 safety boxes were also part of the shipment.
“The arrival of the first COVAX doses today is a major milestone. Gavi looks forward to continuing our collaboration with the people of Afghanistan and partners to ensure the smooth and equitable distribution of vaccines to those most in need. It is going to be challenging, but if we all maintain momentum and keep working together, we will defeat this pandemic,” said Ricard Lacort, senior country manager Afghanistan and Djibouti for Gavi.
Sheema Sen Gupta, the UNICEF Afghanistan representative, said: “The imminent roll-out of the COVAX facilitated COVID-19 vaccine means that around 234,000 people, including teachers, will be better protected from the ravages of the COVID-19 virus.”
“The Ministry of Public Health has been further enabled to fight the COVID-19 pandemic by rolling out the vaccine,” said Waheed Majroh, acting Minister of Public Health. “The MoPH appreciates the COVAX facility and the international donors for their continued support. We must accelerate our efforts to ensure that all eligible Afghans are vaccinated and protected from COVID-19, as it is the most important step to put an end to this pandemic.”
For several months, COVAX partners have been supporting governments and partners in readiness efforts.
"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," according to COVAX or the UNICEF.