Côte d’Ivoire becomes second African country and first French-speaking country to receive vaccine doses via COVAX Facility

The COVAX initiative shipped 504,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, licensed by the Serum Institute of India, to India, and 505,000 syringes to Abidjan, on 26 February 2021. This marks the second batch that has been shipped and delivered to Africa by the COVAX Facility in an unprecedented effort to provide at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.

The vaccine doses were received at Abidjan International Airport by Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Health and Public Hygiene, Dr Eugène Aka Aouélé, accompanied by members of the COVAX Facility – the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – in addition to the United Nations Development System (UNDS) Resident Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire and the ambassadors of the European Union countries, whose funding enabled manufacturing, transport and distribution of the vaccine. The vaccines transported by UNICEF came from India (Mumbai), and were transported through Dubai where a shipment of syringes from a Gavi-funded stockpile was collected from UNICEF’s regional supply centre. UNICEF strives to monitor vaccines throughout the supply chain, from the factory gate to the port of entry in each country.

After Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire is now the second African country to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccine delivered through the COVAX Facility. This is an historic step towards ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide as part of the largest ever vaccine procurement and supply operation.

“Côte d’Ivoire is pleased and proud to be the second African country after Ghana to receive vaccines provided through the COVAX Facility. This is an important step in our shared fight against the common enemy that is COVID-19. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll around the world and our country is no exception. More than 32,000 people living in Côte d’Ivoire have been infected with the disease, and 188 have died. This is a tragedy. I would like to honour their memory. The vaccines we have received today will enable us to contain the pandemic and improve the health of our population,” said the Ivorian Minister of Health and Public Hygiene.

COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and is led jointly by Gavi, WHO, CEPI, and UNICEF which is leading vaccine procurement and delivery operations.

“This is an important moment for Côte d’Ivoire, the African continent and COVAX, bringing us all closer to our common goal of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines,” said Gavi’s Managing Director, Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao. “Our work on the global roll-out has only just begun, but Gavi is proud to see COVAX and AMC [Advance Market Commitment] become a reality with this first wave of deliveries which will protect the most vulnerable, including health workers fighting on the front line against this pandemic.”

“Today is an important first step towards achieving our shared vision of vaccine equity, but it is only the beginning. We are proud that Côte d’Ivoire is among the first countries in Africa to receive the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine through the COVAX Facility. The global pandemic has already caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and disrupted the lives of billions of people. As well as reducing the tragic number of deaths and bringing the pandemic under control, the vaccine will also prevent US$375 billion in losses to the global economy each month. Global and equitable access to a vaccine, which will protect health workers and those at greatest risk of contracting the disease in particular, is the only way to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on public health and the economy,” said the WHO Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, Dr. Jean-Marie Vianney Yameogo.

“Vaccines save lives. As health workers and other front-line staff are vaccinated, we will see a gradual return to normality, including improved access to health, education and protection services for all, and especially for children. UNICEF and its partners are working together to help countries prepare for the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine and the launch of the immunization campaign. In the spirit of universal health coverage, we must leave no one behind,” said Marc Vincent, the UNICEF Representative in Côte d’Ivoire.

“As the first donor to the COVAX Facility with a contribution of €2.3 billion, “Team Europe” (the European Union, its Member States and the European Investment Bank) is proud to have facilitated access for the people of Côte d’Ivoire to the first COVID-19 vaccines. This is a tangible sign of solidarity, which will be gradually extended to other African countries,” said European Union Ambassador, Jobst von Kirchmann.