UNICEF has announced it is working with 350 logistics partners, including major airlines and shipping lines, to ensure the delivery of nearly two billion Covid-19 vaccines to over 92 countries, as well as one billion syringes.

In a statement released by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday, the agency said it plans to play a massive role in the delivery of coronavirus vaccines in 2021, adding that it was anticipated to be the largest and fastest such operation ever undertaken. 

“This invaluable collaboration will go a long way to ensure that enough transport capacity is in place for this historic and mammoth operation. We need all hands on deck as we get ready to deliver Covid-19 vaccine doses, syringes and more personal protective equipment to protect front line workers around the globe,” said Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division. 

Through its 350 logistics partners, the agency plans to deliver close to two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to 92 countries in 2021. This is in addition to one billion syringes that will need to be transported by sea-freight. 

UNICEF’s mammoth logistics operation will see the agency deliver vaccines manufactured by organizations that have agreements with the COVAX Facility, a global collaboration of governments, global health organizations and businesses working together to accelerate vaccine development and ensure global access. 

UNICEF, along with partners at Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), kick-started preparations last week by hosting a meeting with major airlines and logistics companies to discuss capacity requirements. 

The agency plans to commence operations as soon as doses are ready. 

It is anticipated that some vaccines will be ready for distribution globally in the coming weeks, with Pfizer already applying for regulatory approval following the positive data from stage three trials. 

AstraZeneca also posted positive trial results on Monday. The vaccine developed at Oxford University is likely to be considerably cheaper than the Pfzier and Moderna vaccines, and does not need to be stored at subarctic temperatures, supposedly a huge benefit for nations without vast cool chain storage capacity. 

Early data from stage three trials shows Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to be 92 percent effective against Covid-19. The vaccine has already been ordered by several countries, including Argentina and Israel.