UNICEF to Lead Global Initiative to Buy, Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines

The U.N. children’s agency said Thursday it would lead the world’s largest and fastest procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines from dozens of makers in the next two years so that no country lacks access.UNICEF and the World Health Organization co-lead a COVID-19 A workers sanitizes a metro coach in New Delhi, India, Sept. 3, 2020.On Wednesday, Nepalese protesters defying a government coronavirus lockdown to take part in a religious festival clash with riot police, in Lalitpur, Nepal, Sept. 3, 2020.Amnesty’s report highlighted the deadly toll COVID-19 has had on frontline workers. Overall, at least 7,000 health workers have died of the virus.Other countries with high mortality rates include the United States, Brazil and India, where health worker death tolls stand at 1,077, 634 and 573, respectively, Reuters reported. The three countries have the highest number of deaths and confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins.Mexico ranks eighth in the world with 616,894 confirmed cases, but fourth overall in deaths, with 66,329.According to a Reuters analysis of data from the Mexican government, health care workers in that country are four times more likely to die than in the U.S.”Many months into the pandemic, health workers are still dying at horrific rates in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and the USA,” Steve Cockburn, head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International, told Reuters. “There must be global cooperation to ensure all health workers are provided with adequate protective equipment, so they can continue their vital work without risking their own lives.”Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 and has downplayed the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, said Thursday Brazilians will not be forced to receive a vaccination, when they become available.Brazil on Thursday tallied more than 4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and is second in the world with 124,614 deaths.”Many people want the vaccine to be applied in a coercive way, but there is no law that provides for that,” Bolsonaro said in a Facebook live chat with his supporters, according to a Reuters report.Several COVID-19 vaccines are being tested in Brazil. The government has bought 30 million doses of a vaccine that is being produced by Oxford University/AstraZeneca. Three others are in Phase 3 clinical trials from makers Sinovac Biotech of China, Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen, according to Reuters. 

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