COVAX: The largest vaccination rollout ever

A healthcare professional at a vaccination site proudly holds up a COVID-19 vaccination card that verifies she received the vaccine.
Caption: “I am excited and relaxed” says health worker from Ghana, Lucy Addy, 52, after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Photo: UNICEF/Francis Kokoroko

The Global COVAX Facility is the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation ever.  

UNICEF is leading the effort on behalf of the Global COVAX Facility—composed of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Together the Facility will provide 190 countries worldwide with equal access to 2 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and 1 billion syringes, all delivered by the end of 2021.  

The initial deployments of vaccines have commenced globally.  


UN teams in Africa have helped ensure the arrival of millions of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility. These vaccines have now arrived in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sudan, The Gambia, Togo and Uganda.  

Health professionals line up outside the vaccination facility to administer Angola's first COVID-19 vaccines.

Caption: Health professionals line up to administer Angola's first COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the COVAX facility as soon as they arrive from Luanda's Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport to the Central Vaccines Storage facility.

Photo: COVAX/Carlos César

More than 620,000 doses arrived in Angola, with UN team’s support. This will help cover an initial 10 per cent of the country’s first phase of vaccine needs, with more doses on their way. The vaccination effort began with a 71-year-old woman receiving the first vaccine shot.  

Cold chain staff unpack the COVID-19 vaccines for storage in the cold room.

Caption: Cold chain staff unpack the COVID-19 vaccines for storage in the cold room. Vaccine storage warehouse, Kinkole commune, Kinshasa, DRC.

Photo: UNICEF/Sibylle Desjardins

The Democratic Republic of the Congo received more than 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with UN team’s support.  

A healthcare professional stands by a COVAX sign and flashes a 'v' with her fingers to signify she was vaccinated.

Caption: Dr. Desalegn, the first Ethiopian to be vaccinated, proudly flashes the 'V' for vaccinated sign.

Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia/2021/ Nahom Tesfaye

"I am happy to be vaccinated but it is just another layer of protection and we should continue to keep our distance and wash our hands", says Dr. Tenaye Desalegn, the first Ethiopian to receive the vaccine. 

COVAX delivered 2.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Ethiopia, with vaccination starting with priority groups. 

A healthcare professional at a vaccination site rolls up her sleeve as she receives a vaccine administered by her colleague.

Caption: Alice Kafuwa from Zomba Central Hospital was one of the first frontline health workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Photo: UNICEF/Thoko Chikondi

Today is very emotional for me. This vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the coronavirus for many other frontline workers and me. Finally, there is hope for us, our communities and Malawi as a whole,” Alice Kafuwa, shared her excitement. She was one of the very first frontline health workers in Malawi to receive the vaccine. 

COVAX delivered the first 360,000 doses of vaccines last week to Malawi. Vaccinations across the country will prioritize those most-at-risk, including health workers, those with underlying medical conditions, prisoners, the elderly and others. Malawi also received 360,000 bundled syringes and 3,625 safety boxes for safe disposal of syringes for the COVID-19 vaccination. In addition, the country is set to receive 2.1 million syringes and 21,600 safety boxes. 

Healthcare workers wearing face masks stand together underneath a tent.

Caption: National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) commenced the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups.

Photo: UNICEF/Safiya Akau

On 5 March 2021, Nigeria received nearly 4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines marks the beginning of the national vaccination plan, targeting priority groups, starting with frontline healthcare workers.  

Airline staff, the UN and authorities anxiously await a delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

Caption: Airport staff, the UN and authorities anxiously await a delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

Photo: UN Sierra Leone

Nearly 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine landed in Sierra Leone last week. This delivery is part of a first wave of arrivals of over half a million doses that will continue until end of May. UN Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi believes the arrival of this first batch through the COVAX scheme is testimony to the power of global solidarity in response to a global health and development crisis.   

Countries are receiving COVAX-backed vaccine doses with rapid pace over the last few days and weeks: 


A healthcare professional holds up a vial of the COVAX-backed vaccine delivered to Cambodia.

Caption: Cambodia received more than 320,000 doses of vaccines.

Photo: UNICEF/Antoine Raab

On 2 March, Cambodia became one of the first countries in the Western Pacific region to receive vaccines. More than 320,000 doses of the COVAX-backed vaccines arrived in the country. It was the first batch of a total of 1.1 million doses that are expected to be provided by the end of May. Cambodia is expected to receive doses for 20 per cent of the total population (an estimated 7 million doses) under COVAX, with more doses arriving throughout the year. The elderly and those most vulnerable to COVID-19 will be vaccinated first. 


A man sits at a vaccine registration table to check in for his vaccination.

Caption: Vaccine registration in Maldives

Photo: UNICEF Maldives/2021/Sharif

The Maldives was among the first countries to receive syringes through the COVAX initiative, with UNICEF supporting the arrival of 100,000 syringes. 200,000 doses are expected in the country of the coming few weeks. As of the first week in March, more than 111,000 individuals have been vaccinated, with a priority focus on frontline workers and high-risk groups. 


Two airport employees unload a crate of vaccines from the plane's cargo space.

Caption: On the evening of 4 March 2021, airport workers offload the vaccine shipment from the aircraft.

Photo: COVAX/Vladimir Uvarov

Moldova is the first European country to receive COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX. A first batch of 14,400 doses for medical and frontline personnel as well as persons at high risks, arrived on 4 March, with support from the UN in Moldova team, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  


69-year-old Ashiya Devi Chaudhary carries a cane as she walks to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Caption: 69-year-old Ashiya Devi Chaudhary makes her way to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Photo: UNICEF/Preena Shrestha

The first UN-backed COVAX shipment of more than 340,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, along with 350,000 syringes and 3500 safety boxes arrived in Nepal earlier this month. This, of course, is part of the UN team’s effort to support the national vaccination plan targeting 22 million at-risk people—including refugees and migrants.   

Combatting COVID-19 together

The UN teams remain committed to deploying the rollout as quickly and efficiently as possible. To mark the one year of the pandemic, Secretary-General António Guterres, stressed:  

"COVID-19 vaccines must be seen as a global public good. The world needs to unite to produce and distribute sufficient vaccines for all, which means at least doubling manufacturing capacity around the world. That effort must start now. Only together can we end this pandemic and recover. Only together can we revive our economies. And then, together, we can all get back to the things we love.” 

Produced by the Development Coordination Office with support from UN Country Teams worldwide. 

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