New Delhi, 21 October 2021 - “UNICEF India congratulates the Government of India on reaching the milestone of 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered so far. We welcome the strides that India has made in recent months to ramp up vaccinations.
“This is a tremendous achievement, given the logistical complexity of administering 1 billion doses in less than a year, in a country as vast and diverse as India. As Indian families recover from the recent devastating COVID-19 wave, for many this milestone means hope.
“Over the last few months, we have seen health workers working round-the-clock to accelerate vaccination coverage in every part of the country. Many traveled across difficult terrains to vaccinate people, including in the most remote and hard-to-reach areas. We salute the commitment and hard work of every one of these health workers. Without them, and the dedication of the scientists, doctors, manufacturers, policy makers and health managers, we would not have been able to achieve this milestone.
“UNICEF has supported these efforts by procuring and supplying over 4,195 pieces of electrical cold chain equipment, including walk-in coolers, freezers, ice lined refrigerators, and deep freezers. We also supplied more than 420,000 pieces of cold chain boxes and vaccine carriers.
“As part of the Risk Communication and Community Engagement response, UNICEF continues to actively support the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare through national communication campaigns to promote behaviours to prevent COVID-19 and speed up India’s vaccine drive. We have reinforced efforts to create awareness about COVID-19 vaccinations and promote its uptake among people. Real time media monitoring is used to counter misinformation and fake news. Easy, positive messages and compelling audiovisual materials help to disseminate accurate information in time.
“We are in the process of procuring millions of syringes and other equipment as per the needs of the Government of India.
“We also welcome India’s decision to resume COVID-19 vaccine exports. This is very encouraging news for countries that need to urgently fast-track their vaccination campaigns to priority groups, especially health workers and frontline workers.
Vaccine recipients during the Covid 19 Vaccine Launch, January 2021
“We particularly look forward to hearing details about the expected timeline and volumes of supplies to be made available by the Government of India to the COVAX Facility.
“UNICEF, along with the Government of India, can assist other nations to expand their COVID-19 vaccination drives by providing training and guidance, and help countries in preparing for efficient roll outs.
“Now more than ever, we need greater solidarity to expand vaccine coverage across South Asia and the world. We welcome this step by India and call on well-supplied countries to donate surplus doses to low and middle-income countries to expand vaccine coverage.
“Low- and middle-income countries need access to COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. According to the World Health Organization, high-income countries have administered 35 times more vaccine doses than low-income countries.
“Everyone wins if we can vaccinate the most vulnerable groups around the world first and foremost.”