Kiwi ultrarunner Harita Davies has smashed a record – running a punishing 4,989 kilometres in 50 days, 13 hours, 23 minutes and 14 seconds. Lisa Carrington, a kayak sprint champion, raced to become New Zealand’s most successful Olympian. Rally star Hayden Paddon raced his electric powered car to victory, Sir Edmund Hillary raced to the summit of Mount Everest, and Kate Sheppard raced to collect 31,872 signatures for women’s right to vote.
Now the race is on for Kiwis to get vaccinated with 90% of our eligible population having received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. But a mammoth global challenge still lies ahead, because we’re not protected until everyone is and currently only 4.5% of people in low income countries have received a single jab.
While the majority of eligible New Zealanders will be fully vaccinated by Christmas, according to Our World in Data, as of 8 November just 6.7% of people in Afghanistan are fully vaccinated, 4.6% in Solomon Islands and 1.2% in Papua New Guinea.
Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles
Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles says that the inequitable vaccine roll-out is inexcusable.
“It is an absolute travesty that some countries are rolling out boosters while others haven’t been able to vaccinate those most at risk of dying. It’s our global response that matters. None of this is over until we’re all safe.”
To ensure that everyone has fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, UNICEF and partners are on a mission to deliver 3 billion vaccine doses to 92 low and lower middle-income countries. We’re rolling-out the largest health campaign in history and racing against the clock to protect frontline workers and vulnerable communities.
How does the race take shape? We’ll run you through it….
We’re purchasing vaccines and medical supplies
UNICEF is the largest buyer of vaccines on the planet so we can purchase at scale and secure the best prices. We have decades of experience behind us and strong relationships and contracts with manufacturers.
We’re leading the procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines globally through the COVAX Facility – a global initiative to ensure fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for 92 low and lower middle-income countries while also supporting procurement for more than 97 upper middle-income and high-income nations.
COVID-19 vaccine vials are produced for the COVAX facility at a manufacturer in India.
We have been preparing countries for the arrival of vaccines by prepositioning immunisation supplies like PPE, syringes and safety disposal boxes. We had even procured 1 billion syringes which are stored at the world’s largest humanitarian warehouse in the world in Copenhagen, which we proudly own!
UNICEF’s global warehouse in Copenhagen is the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world.
We’re keeping the vaccines cool, but not too cool
Most vaccines are sensitive to heat or light so they need to be transported and stored at stable temperatures to maintain their quality and potency, whether they’re traveling through tropical rainforests or desert plains. Some of the vaccines require ultra-cold chain (UCC), or the ability to keep vaccines as cold as -70°C. Our cold rooms, refrigerators, freezers, cold boxes and vaccine carriers need to be robust and reliable to protect the life-saving vaccines long enough to get them administered.
Mitanin holds her vaccine carrier tightly after traveling through difficult terrain in India.
Our heroes are helping us deliver vaccines worldwide
Our health workers go to incredible lengths to carry vaccines in our distinctive blue cold boxes through the harshest of environments. They’re traveling by car, motorcycle, bicycle, donkey, boat, camel or on foot to reach even the most remote communities. They’re crossing war zones, scaling precarious mountains and trekking through rough terrain.
Barefoot heath worker Ravi Chhayajyoti carries vaccines donated through the COVAX Facility past dark caves and gushing waterfalls to reach remote communities in far-western Nepal.
Our fearless vaccinators are not only transporting COVID vaccines, they’re also carrying vaccines to protect children against killer diseases like polio, measles and pneumonia. UNICEF vaccinates nearly half of the world’s children under five and immunisation saves more than two million children’s lives each year. We’re moving at pace because nothing will stop our routine childhood immunisations, not even a global pandemic.
Together we’re getting jabs in arms
When the precious vaccines finally reach their destination and people roll up their sleeves, they are administered by trained health care staff. We’re prioritising frontline health workers and vulnerable populations, training health workers on COVID-19 infection and prevention control and working with community advocates to promote the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines tests and treatments.
MHMS Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Pauline McNeil receives her COVAX vaccine dose
More than 412 million doses have now been shipped through COVAX to 141 countries. From Papua New Guinea to the Philippines, Myanmar to Morocco, our COVID-19 dashboard provides daily updates on total COVAX vaccine deliveries and doses allocated.
Vaccines and COVID-19 test kits touch down in Myanmar
It takes a herculean effort to deliver vaccines and medical equipment around the world, only made possible with the generous support from our partners and donors, including right here in Aotearoa.
Earlier this year as India battled a crippling second wave of the pandemic, New Zealanders raced to support, with 530 donations matched by Vodafone New Zealand and the Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation reaching a generous total of $469,950. An additional $179,244 was raised bringing the total to $649,194.
COVID-19 isn’t over until it’s over for everyone and this race cannot be won by individuals acting alone. In the months ahead, billions of vaccines, syringes, safety boxes and medical equipment will leave their place of origin and begin a journey around the world.
As Kiwis reach an impressive vaccination milestone, we know how fortunate we are to have the power of vaccines to protect us.
“With the aid of vaccines, the vast majority of us will be protected from the disease. It’s a great example of when people throw human brilliance at a problem, we can achieve extraordinarily results in a short time,” Peter Hillary, son of adventurer Sir Edmund Hillary.
Together, we can join the race to end the pandemic.