The global collaboration for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, COVAX, has delivered more than 37,000 syringes to the Ministry of Health of The Gambia, through UNICEF. The first tranche of syringes was shipped from the Gavi-funded stockpile at UNICEF’s humanitarian warehouse in Dubai and arrived at the Banjul International Airport late Sunday night. The shipment also includes 375 safety boxes for the safe disposal of syringes.
“The arrival of these syringes is a springboard that better prepares us for the task ahead – the equitable administration of vaccines to Gambians,” said Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health of The Gambia. “We are finalizing preparations for the vaccine rollout and our priority is to give the first injections to frontline health workers and other vulnerable groups such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. Global partnerships and solidarity are taking us further in this journey and we commend all COVAX partners and donors for supporting this worthy cause.”
The Ministry of Health has been leading and coordinating efforts to prepare for the delivery of COVID-19 syringes and vaccines to The Gambia, including facilitating the required documentation for the importation of the vaccines and guaranteeing the readiness of the cold chain system for the safe storage of the vaccines.
The Gambia is among the first countries to receive syringes from the COVAX facility. The arrival of the syringes sets the ground for inoculations once the vaccines arrive, expected in a few days.
“After more than a year of uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, hope is now on the horizon,” said Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF The Gambia Representative. “With the delivery of these syringes, we have taken an important step to prepare for a historic vaccination programme in The Gambia. Like all other countries, The Gambia also must have equitable access to sufficient syringes and vaccines to protect its people, especially the most vulnerable groups, from COVID-19.”
“I am delighted with the arrival in The Gambia of the first consignment of syringes from the COVAX facility. The COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective, it reduces the risk of disease among all vulnerable population groups and saves lives. We look forward to supporting the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccinations, once the vaccines arrive in country in the coming days.” Dr Desta Alamerew Tiruneh, World Health Organization Representative in The Gambia stated.
COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key implementing partner UNICEF, working to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries.
The 0.5 ml syringes delivered to the Ministry of Health on Sunday are of the auto-disable type, which means they cannot be used again after a single dose of vaccine has been administered. This reduces the risk of infection from blood-borne diseases as a result of syringe re-use.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.