The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it is purchasing and “pre-positioning syringes” and other necessary equipment, as the world awaits a COVID-19 vaccine.
UNICEF said in a statement on Monday that the move was part of a groundwork for the rapid, safe and efficient delivery of the vaccine when ready.
The agency said it would stockpile 520 million syringes in its warehouses this year as part of a larger plan of one billion syringes by 2021.
This, it said, will “guarantee initial supply and help ensure that syringes arrive in countries before the COVID-19 vaccines”.
UNICEF noted that the world would need as many syringes as doses of COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they “successfully emerge from trials and are licensed and recommended for use”.
The fund explained that the targeted one billion syringes for COVID-19 vaccination were aside 620 million others it would purchase for measles, typhoid and other vaccination programmes.
UNICEF Executive Director, Ms Henrietta Fore, said the COVID-19 vaccination would be one of the “largest mass undertakings in human history”.
“It will need to move as quickly as the vaccines can be produced. In order to move fast later, we must move fast now.
“By the end of the year, we will already have over half a billion syringes pre-positioned where they can be deployed quickly and cost effectively.
“That’s enough syringes to wrap around the world one and a half times,” the statement quoted Fore as saying.
Besides syringes, UNICEF said it is also buying five million safety boxes for safe disposal of used syringes and needles at health facilities.
With every safety box carrying 100 syringes, the agency further said it is “bundling” the syringes with safety boxes to ensure enough safety boxes are available to go along with the syringes.
UNICEf said it would be reimbursed for the procurement of the syringes and safety boxes by Gavi in line with the longstanding collaboration between it and the international vaccine alliance.