The United Nations Children's Fun is the world's largest purchaser of vaccines, purchasing more than two billion doses annually for routine vaccination and response to outbreaks and emergencies, for almost 100 countries.
Now, in the framework of the Covid-19 pandemic and the COVAX initiative, Unicef will work with manufacturers and partners in the acquisition, transportation and distribution of vaccines against the new coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.
According to Unicef, Portugal is on the list of countries interested in joining Covax.
The operation will take place in 92 developing and emerging countries and involves logistics and storage, announced the UN structure in a statement.
"Unicef will also assume a coordinating role in the vaccine procurement process by 80 developed countries, which have expressed their intention to participate in the COVAX Facility initiative, financing the purchase of vaccines with public budget. Portugal is one of these 80 countries, and has already expressed interest in joining the initiative," the document reads.
It is an initiative in which governments, manufacturers and multilateral partners participate to face the pandemic, according to Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of Unicef, cited in the statement.
"In this collective search for a vaccine, UNICEF is using its unique expertise in vaccine supply to ensure that all countries have safe, rapid and equitable access to initial doses as soon as they become available," she said.
The next step is to ensure that countries with their own funding sign up for the initiative by 18 September, which will support early investments to increase large-scale production capacity through advance purchase agreements.
The WHO is developing the distribution process within the COVAX Facility, which will indicate how and where UNICEF and other entities working on behalf of the participating countries supply the vaccines provided by the initiative.
"Initial dose allocations are expected to increase to allow countries to vaccinate health and social workers, and then allow participating countries to vaccinate risk groups," UNICEF added in the statement.