By Isaac Unisa Kamara.
Sierra Leone country representatives of WHO, unicef, and other partners receive the first batch of 96,000 doses of Astra Seneca COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX Facility.
The consignment according to WHO Country Chief is donor driven, and has it main supporters from USA with $2.5 bill, Germany – $1.097bill, £735 mill, European Union $485 mill, Japan $200mill, and among others.
The consignment consist of the first batch of 528,000 of the vaccine that was produced by Serum Institute of India and approved by the World Health Organization for emergency response on COVID-19 virus.
Country Representative of WHO, Dr. Steven Velabo Shongwe, on the 8th March, 2021, at the Lungi International Airport, while receiving the consignment said the moment was a historic one.
“We gather here to witness the arrival of this first batch out of the 528,000 allocated for Sierra Leone,” Dr. Shongwe said, continuing that, the COVAX Facility through a very strong collaboration is supporting low and middle-income countries including Sierra Leone under its Advance Market Commitment (AMC). “The global COVAX Facility partnership brings together Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), Gavi, UNICEF and WHO,” he added.
Further, he said the arrival of the first consignment provides the country with an additional public health tool in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. This initial batch and immediat subsequent shipment will prioritize critical target groups like frontline health professionals, vulnerable groups like the age and people with underlying health conditions informed the WHO Boss
Shongwe assured that, the vaccines are safe and efficacious, will help to save lives, reduce the severity of the viruses and improve the quality of life for individuals. “The deployment of the vaccine should be one of the critical measures that have to be taken in addition to the strict adherence to other public health measures,” he cautioned, while commending the government for providing leadership in the development of national COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan with the support of implementing partners.
Country Representative of UNICEF, Dr. Suliaman Braimoh congratulated the government for its leadership and commitment in signing up to the COVAX Facility. He said through this global collaboration, the vaccine would be accessible to everyone regardless of ones economic status. He noted that, for the fact that they have come together to complement government effort on the fight, their collective strides towards tackling the virus will prove worthy results.”UNICEF hereby reiterate its commitment to support the COVAX vaccine deployment in the country through ensuring that the population is well informed of the vaccination,” he disclosed, while commending the conserted efforts of frontline health workers and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, which he said has helped to slowdown the transmission of the disease.
Minister of Health and Sanitation said the arrival of the vaccines will switch on the vaccination of 20% of the country’s 8,000,000 population. “Our health facilities throughout 2020 have been challenged by the task of responding to the pandemic while trying to balance our roles towards our normal health services,” he said, adding that Sierra Leone is delighted to receive its first COVAX vaccine doses as it looks forward to the launching of the vaccination campaign in the coming days.
“This arrival of the vaccine is a testimony of global solidarity in response to a global health and development crises,” said Mr. Babatunde Ahons, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone.