Third shipment of COVAX facilitated vaccines arrive in Albania

  • COVAX mechanism: Ensuring global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines

Today, a third shipment of 40,800 doses of Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Mother Teresa Airport, Tirana, as the final batch of a total of 120,000 doses that Albania signed up to receive through the COVAX mechanism. 

COVAX mechanism: Ensuring global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines

The aim of the UN-backed COVAX scheme is to get two billion vaccine doses into the arms of a quarter of the population of poorer countries by the end of 2021. “

The World Health Organization announced the outbreak of COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020, following the declaration of a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) by the Director General on 30th January 2020. Addressing the challenges of this unprecedented crisis affecting people across the globe required new types of global solidarity, extraordinary political commitment, decisive leadership, and the mobilization of the whole scientific community, complemented by the necessary financial and technical resources.

Some fifteen months into the outbreak we see remarkable progress:  No one would have predicted that within less than a year we would have several reliable and effective vaccines available – and that almost 1.5 billion doses would have been administered - an extraordinary success story in terms of scientific advances, agile entrepreneurship and global mobilization.

Ensuring equitable access to vaccines  required intense global collaboration, supported by initiatives  like the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool C-TAP, to facilitate timely, equitable and affordable access of COVID-19 health products by boosting their supply. And it was eventually through mechanisms like the COVAX facility that these global efforts could materialize.

COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF. COVAX is the vaccine pillar of the ACT Accelerator ACT-A , a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

WHO has developed fair global allocation criteria and prioritization mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility. The ultimate objectives are to contain the pandemic, to save lives and protect health care systems, and to restore global economies, based on the universal principles of human rights and equity, grounded on scientific and epidemiological evidence.

The COVAX Facility has already distributed vaccines to more than a hundred countries around the world.

As of 31 May, COVAX has shipped 77 million COVID-19 vaccines to 127 participants; nearly a quarter of those countries would not have been able to start vaccination if it had not been through the COVAX Facility. With major contributions, from United States, United Kingdom, Team Europe including European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden, Canada and Japan (as of 2 June). See all contributors here

Joining the COVAX mechanism does not preclude countries from entering other bilateral agreements; in a global environment of limited vaccine supplies, which we will continue to face during 2021, global solidarity remains crucial to ensure equitable and fair access to vaccines, so that vulnerable groups in resource constrained countries can get protected. 

The ambition of COVAX is to facilitate equitable vaccine access globally: it was set up as a mechanism to ensure vaccine distribution and availability in all countries: high-income, middle-income and low-income. While several countries, in particular high-income ones, have succeeded to mobilize sufficient vaccine quantities to vaccinate and protect their priority target groups, many low-income countries remain struggling to even protect those most vulnerable. WHO strongly encourages countries with excess vaccine doses to share them with the COVAX facility. As Dr Tedros, the WHO Director General has made clear, “no one is safe until everyone is safe”. We should all have learnt by now that the virus knows no borders. More global vaccine solidarity is needed, as new dynamics and new virus mutations and “variants of concern” could unravel progress everywhere – even in countries that have achieved high vaccination coverage. 

Media Contacts
UN entities involved in this initiative
World Health Organization