In one of the most remarkable collective efforts in history – the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF and WHO on one hand and multiple donors on the other, is helping to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to protect vulnerable groups against the pandemic.
The first batch of 264,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca ‘Covishield’ vaccines recently arrived in Sri Lanka for the most vulnerable elderly population above 60 years of age in high-risk areas impacted by COVID-19 in line with the National Vaccine Deployment Plan of the Ministry of Health (MOH). According to the Plan, there are approximately 2.65 million elderly people (above 60 years of age) in the country.
The partner Governments including various bilateral, multilateral as well as some major foundations and corporations are providing significant support and funding, in order to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, including to Sri Lanka.
Speaking on behalf of the UN in Sri Lanka, the Resident Coordinator, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, said, “Global solidarity is more important than ever, and donors are playing a fundamental role in making the provision of vaccines to the most high-risk groups in Sri Lanka and across the world possible.”
Development partners and international financial institutions across the world are providing substantial financial resources to the COVAX facility to help countries through the pandemic recovery period to ensure that no one is left behind.
“We are all grateful for this partnership. Together we can defeat this pandemic and charter a course to social and economic recovery by ensuring a safer and healthier future for everyone in Sri Lanka,” said the Resident Coordinator.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that no one is safe, until everyone is safe and the fair and equitable access to the vaccine is the only way we can defeat the virus” Ms. Singer-Hamdy said.
As part of the agreement between the MOH and the COVAX Facility, vaccines are being allocated for 20 percent of the population which will cover 4.4 million people in the country. The first round of allocations from the COVAX facility of 1.44 million vaccines will be provided in stages through to May 2021. The vaccines will be procured by UNICEF, subject to the availability from manufacturers and authorization by WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL).