The first shipment of a Swiss donation of 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine has arrived in Sierra Leone.
The shipment, which touched down in Freetown on 9 October, is part of a consignment of 4 million doses of the vaccines donated to countries in Africa and Asia.
As the host country of Gavi, Switzerland has long been a strong supporter of Gavi’s mission and vision. The Swiss federal government has scaled up its contribution to Gavi in recent years, pledging CHF 10 million for routine immunisation programmes in 2020 to help deliver life-saving vaccines to children around the world. Switzerland has also stepped up efforts to support the COVAX programme, pledging CHF 20 million in 2020 and an additional 125 million in 2021 to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (Gavi COVAX AMC) to help buy vaccines for people in lower-income countries and territories. This latest donation builds upon that support.
“As our host since the creation of Gavi, Switzerland has been a strong supporter of global vaccination – pledging funding to Gavi’s core budget and also to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (Gavi COVAX AMC),” said Gavi CEO Dr Seth Berkley.
“This donation of 4 million doses strengthens Swiss leadership in global health,” he added.
The AstraZeneca manufacturing network produces these doses donated by Switzerland. Donating through COVAX helps to increase vaccine coverage, ensures that no dose goes to waste, and helps to end the acute phase of the pandemic. The design and operationalization of the COVAX facility are being supported by a contribution of CAD 5 million from Canada.
The donation of the vaccines via COVAX are enabled via tripartite agreements between Gavi, manufacturers, and donating countries.
The shipments to countries will be enabled by COVAX delivery partners UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Hundreds of millions of doses have already been pledged to COVAX by a number of countries in response to short-term supply challenges and the rise of new variants. Working with donor governments to operationalise growing numbers of dose-sharing pledges, COVAX expects to see more deliveries of donated doses in the weeks and months to come.