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UNICEF sends an initial 100,000 syringes to Maldives for COVAX COVID-19 vaccine rollout
23 February 2021 -

UNICEF, the UN agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide, said on 23 February 2021 that it had sent an initial 100,000 syringes for COVID-19 vaccines to the Maldives in preparation for first deliveries of Pfizer and AstraZeneca shots under the COVAX vaccine-sharing plan, Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday.

According to the UNICEF, the syringes, as well as 1,000 safety boxes for vaccine storage, are expected to arrive in the Maldives on 23 February 2021.

Other recipient countries in the first wave of shipments include Ivory Coast and Sao Tome and Principe.

In a statement, the UNICEF said that the shipment of 23 February 2021 will be followed in the next few weeks by deliveries of about 14.5 million 0.5 millilitre (ml) and 0.3 ml syringes to over 30 countries.

The COVAX facility, co-led by the World Health Organisation, the GAVI vaccine alliance and others, had allocated about 330 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for poorer countries earlier in February 2021. It aims to deliver these and millions more in the first half of 2021.

UNICEF said the 0.5 ml syringes would be for use with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine made by Serum Institute of India, while the 0.3 ml ones would be for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.

UNICEF's executive director, Henrietta Fore, was quoted as saying: "It is critical to have adequate supplies of syringes already in place in every country before the vaccine arrives so that the vaccine can be administered safely," adding, "This would allow immunisation to start immediately and "help turn the tide on this terrible virus".