The interim distribution list of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX vaccines) is now available and an allocation for The Gambia of 180,000 AstraZeneca vaccines is catered for this first quarter of 2021. In simple terms, as soon as the vaccine is made available for distribution to the COVAX partners, The Gambia will be given 180,000 doses.
This has become possible thanks to the joint UN-led COVAX initiative for fair access to coronavirus-beating jabs and an early support from the European Union who acted as a catalyst for COVAX to become a reality for the benefit of countries like The Gambia.
This indicative distribution is intended to provide interim guidance to Facility participants like The Gambia – offering a planning scenario to enable preparations for the final allocation of the number of doses The Gambia and other beneficiary countries of COVAX will receive in the first rounds of vaccine distribution. It is therefore non-binding and may be subject to change.
Nevertheless, COVAX partners believe the publication of the interim distribution list information, which has now been shared with all economies participating in the COVAX Facility, including The Gambia, marks an important first step in providing governments and public health leaders with the information they need to put in place practical steps for the provision of early doses and a successful national roll out of vaccines.
For example, the ministry of Health of The Gambia can now include the hypothetical availability of 180,000 AstraZeneca vaccines, by end of February, in its vaccination plans. The Governments can therefore prepare vaccine distribution programmes, knowing which vaccine they can expect to receive, between now and the end of June. The importance of The Gambia’s readiness to receive and set up the infrastructure and capabilities to vaccinate is paramount. One of the warnings COVAX has clearly issued to countries is that “No doses will be allocated in the final allocation if a participant country is deemed not ready“.
The delivery of the COVAX vaccines to The Gambia is estimated to begin as of late February, subject to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Emergency Use Listing Procedure (EUL). It is a risk-based procedure for assessing and listing unlicensed vaccines, therapeutics and in vitro diagnostics. Its ultimate aim is expediting the availability of these products to people affected by a public health emergency.
The indicative distribution doses specify contracted number of doses for the first and second quarter supply, with 35 to 40% available in the first quarter and 60 to 65% available in the second quarter.
Other countries will also benefit from the COVAX vaccines. For example, 612,000 doses are catered for Sierra Leone, 1,296,000 will be distributed to Senegal, 144,000 to Guinea-Bissau, 97,164,000 to India and the list of 145 countries goes on.
It is important to note that additional doses of these vaccine products will be available to the COVAX Facility this year.