Buenos Aires, Argentina, 28 March 2021 (PAHO/WHO-UNICEF).- Argentina today received its first 218,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility. The shipment of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines, made by SK Bioscience of South Korea, arrived at Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires.
The arrival of this first shipment marks the beginning of the distribution in Argentina of the vaccines obtained through COVAX, just a few days after the first anniversary of the beginning of social distancing and other preventive measures in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s delivery is part of the first round of COVAX allocations for Argentina, which is to receive 1.9 million doses by the end of June.
The vaccines, which arrived on a commercial airline flight, were received by the Secretary of Health Access, Sandra Tirado, and the Undersecretary of Health Strategies, Juan Manuel Castelli, of the Ministry of Health; the Representative in Argentina of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), Enrique Pérez-Gutiérrez; and the Representative in Argentina of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Luisa Brumana.
“The arrival in Argentina of the first vaccines procured through the COVAX Facility is an enormous achievement, and the result of months of hard work,” Dr. Pérez-Gutiérrez said. “It marks a very important step that will enable us to continue to ensure increasingly equitable access to these vaccines, both here and throughout the world, especially for those who are most at risk.” He added that although the vaccines themselves are important, “moving forward with vaccination will take time. Therefore, we will continue to stand with the public health system to strengthen all the crucial measures for controlling the virus.”
“The COVAX Facility represents a major contribution to containing the virus and its global consequences and, especially, to closing the vaccination gaps between those countries that can more easily procure vaccines, and those that are being left behind,” said Dr. Brumana . “We are going to continue supporting efforts to vaccinate the population as soon as possible, in a context where the availability of doses worldwide is still very limited.”
The COVAX Facility is a global fund for vaccine development and procurement, led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), UNICEF, PAHO, and WHO. The coalition’s goal is to guarantee the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country, Argentina has recorded 2.2 million cases of the disease, and more than 55,000 deaths from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The vaccines being distributed in the country through the COVAX Facility, which have received Emergency Use Listing (EUL) validation from WHO, were acquired by Argentina with its own funds. The 218,000 that arrived today will be incorporated into the vaccination campaign that the government launched on 29 December last year with vaccines procured through bilateral agreements with producers.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the PAHO/WHO Office in Argentina has provided technical cooperation in all areas related to COVID-19 response and safe access to vaccines. Moreover, PAHO has given technical assistance to Argentine authorities, conducted training sessions, and contributed to the adaptation of the global guidelines to local characteristics for the vaccine roll-out.
In addition to participating in the COVAX Facility, UNICEF Argentina is collaborating with the national government in the procurement of 10,000 storage units to ensure the cold chain and support the safe delivery of vaccines around the country. These 5,000 vaccine carriers and 5,000 cold boxes are scheduled to be distributed from the last week of May.
Until vaccination is widespread in the population, basic public health measures will remain the cornerstone of pandemic response. This means continued diagnostic testing, contact tracing, isolation, assisted quarantine, and quality care. Moreover, it is essential to continue practicing hand hygiene, social distancing, use of masks, ventilation of closed spaces, and crowd avoidance.
The COVAX Facility is an unprecedented global effort to ensure that whatever vaccine proves safe and effective, each country in the world has equitable access to it as quickly as possible, to reduce the pandemic’s impact on people’s lives and the economy. In 2021, COVAX aims to provide vaccines for at least 20% of the population in the participating countries which, during this first round of vaccine allocation, will receive enough doses to vaccinate between 2.2% and 2.6% of their populations. COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by CEPI, Gavi, and WHO, working in partnership with UNICEF, as well as the World Bank, civil society organizations, vaccine manufacturers, and others. More information: https://www.gavi.org/covax-facility.
UNICEF is the largest single vaccine buyer in the world (procuring more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually), on behalf of nearly 100 countries, for routine immunization and outbreak response for many diseases. It is currently working with manufacturers and partners for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, and on freight, logistics, and storage. UNICEF is also playing a lead role in efforts to foster trust in vaccines and address misinformation. Across more than 190 countries and territories, it works for the rights of every child, every adolescent, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone. For more information on UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.ar. Follow UNICEF Argentina on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn , and TikTok.
PAHO is the specialized international health agency for the Americas. It serves as the WHO Regional Office for the Americas, and is the specialized health agency of the Inter-American System. In the Americas, the COVAX Facility is implemented through the PAHO Revolving Fund, a regional pooled procurement mechanism. For more than 40 years, the Revolving Fund has forecast the demand and use of national resources to procure high-quality vaccines and other related products at affordable prices for Member States. Moreover, PAHO is providing guidance for countries in the Region to plan their COVID-19 vaccine roll-outs. For more information on PAHO: https://www.paho.org/en.
PAHO/WHO in Argentina
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