UNICEF Malawi Supply Update on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Response:
Prepositioned and locally procured supplies provide critical input to Malawi response in combating COVID-19
The COVID-19 outbreak around the world has imposed enormous pressure on global supply markets and brought unprecedented challenges to UNICEF’s global supply operations. Restrictions on international transport are having an impact on freight operations globally, disrupting supply chains and causing bottlenecks, delays and higher costs in the delivery of lifesaving supplies for humanitarian and development programmes.
Despite these countless challenges, including extreme supply shortages for personal protective equipment (PPE), UNICEF Malawi and its partners are working around the clock to come up with agile solutions to ensure the safeguarding of children and their families in Malawi. One of the solutions includes procuring supplies not just through the offshore UNICEF’s Supply Division but also from the local and regional market. Such locally procured supplies will provide initial relief to the high demand for PPEs in the country. Opportunities for domestic production of PPEs and equipment are also being explored by UNICEF and partners as a way of improving access, cost, sustainability, and boosting the local economy.
UNICEF Malawi is actively involved in supporting the Government of Malawi to mitigate the impact of the virus on children’s survival, health, well-being and education; and in stopping the spread of the virus. As a leading UN agency for supply chain, UNICEF has initiated procurement actions worth over US$10 million for essential and strategic supplies on behalf of the Government of Malawi and other partners.
Update on Procurement of PPEs [Offshore and Local]
- With the Health Services Joint Fund (HSJF), World Bank (WB), GAVI, and FCDO / UK Aid funding, UNICEF has procured Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), medical supplies and medicines worth about US$ 14 million from HSJF- $2,470,035, GAVI- $4,039,062, FCDO-$4,755,656.42, WB PEF- $1,143,727, WB IDA-$1,600,000. The PPEs include coveralls and protective aprons, protective headgear, safety boots, goggles, gloves, respirators and masks.
- In terms of procurement progress, we have received US$ 11.5 million (82%) worth of supplies procured with HSJF, WB IDA, WB PEF, GAVI, and FCDO / UK Aid funding. Supplies worth US$ 2.5 million are expected to arrive in Malawi by March 2021.
- UNICEF undertook local procurement for Personal Protective Equipment, medical supplies and medicines worth about US$ 2.4 million by Dec 2020. The PPE includes: cloth masks, heavy duty boots, HE aprons, HE gloves, biohazard bags, chlorine bleaching powder, mobile plastic portable toilet, cotton wool and methylated spirit.
- Procurement of supplies from the local market will continue for the second wave as some vendors had already pre-positioned supplies, and are ready to deliver once additional requirements are finalized and when the competitive procurement process has been undertaken.
- UNICEF has undertaken two major distributions of supplies to all 29 districts by December 2020 using the distribution plans prepared by the MoH/HTSS.
- Monitoring of COVID-19 supplies is being undertaken by the MOH.
- Weekly meetings are held with the MOH/HTSS to discuss and strategize on funding availability, procurement progress, distribution status and supplies utilization monitoring.
- The global supply portal, managed by UNICEF, continues to facilitate requests by national authorities and humanitarian partners for strategic and critical supplies for COVID-19 response. By Dec 2020, about US$2.5 million worth of COVID supplies have been submitted through the supply portal for procurement.
- UNICEF Malawi, as part of its COVID-19 support to the Ministry of Health, procured TaqPath COVID-19 CE-IVD RT-PCR Kits for use on Applied Biosystems 7500 Real-Time PCR Systems.
- The availability of automated Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests for high-throughput platforms and point of care PCR tests remains critically limited, and reliable rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are not yet available.
- Since March 2020, UNICEF has been supplying COVID-19 tests for low- and middle-income countries including Malawi as shown below:
- Abbott RealTime SARS-CoV-2 assay by Abbott
- Xpert® Xpress SARS-CoV-2 test by Cepheid
- cobas® SARS-CoV-2 assay by Roche
- TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit Life Technologies by Thermo Fisher
- Real-time fluorescent RT-PCR kit for detecting 2019-nCoV
- Smart Detect SARS-CoV-2 rRT-PCR Kit
- Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real Time Multiplex RT-PCR Kit (Detection for 3 Genes)
- COVID-19 genesig CE IVD Real-Time PCR assay
- STANDARD M nCoV Real-Time Detection Kit
Quality-assured and validated antigen (Ag) and antibody (Ab) rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are also not yet available. UNICEF is working with suppliers and partners to secure the availability of quality-assured antigen (Ag) rapid diagnostic tests. With some positive preliminary results already available – and in anticipation of significant global demand, please send your forecast for Ag RDT for COVID-19 and an indication of your funding opportunities to Phyllis Ocran: email@example.com and David Matseketse: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update on COVID-19 Vaccines (COVAX):
- As we prepare for the first wave of COVAX vaccines to be sent to Malawi, 360,000 syringes and 3625 safety boxes will arrive by air in Malawi on the 26th of February 2021. An additional 2,160,000 syringes and 21,600 safety boxes for Malawi have also been dispatched by sea and are estimated to arrive in Malawi by mid-March.
- Regular communication with SD to receive COVAX Vaccines in the country; PO has been placed and the tentative date by which the supplier is requested to have vaccines ready for pick up by UNICEF’s freight forwarder is 23rd February 2021. The expected arrival date will be communicated by means of Pre-Delivery Advice from UNICEF’s designated freight forwarder.
- Delivery of these COVAX vaccines will depend on various factors, including local regulatory approval, indemnification, logistics for distribution, and liability in place among others. These are being followed up with MOH to ensure they are in place.
- UNICEF only procures and supply Covid-19 vaccines that have WHO PQ or WHO EUL.
- UNICEF recommends to countries that they employ only vaccines that have been proven to be both safe, efficacious and are of assured quality as endorsed by WHO (e.g., PQ, EUL); or alternatively, licensed or authorized for emergency use by an SRA (https://www.who.int/medicines/regulation/sras/en/)
- AstraZeneca (AZ) /Oxford and SII (AZ/Oxford) vaccine candidates have received WHO approvals for emergency use respectively. The World Health Organization (WHO) listed two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through COVAX. The vaccines are produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India.
- The AstraZeneca/Oxford product is a viral vectored vaccine called ChAdOx1-S [recombinant]. It is being produced at several manufacturing sites, as well as in the Republic of Korea and India. ChAdOx1-S has been found to have 63.09% efficacy and is suitable for low- and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements.
- UNICEF will continue to support the government to ensure the country's readiness for successful and equitable access to vaccines.
- UNICEF has supported Government to submit their NDVP and country readiness to receive the vaccine; customs, cold chain, other in-country logistics.
- UNICEF has collaborated with 10 leading airlines to support the prioritization of delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices, and other critical supplies to respond to the pandemic. Safe, timely, and efficient transportation of life-saving supplies is critical to supporting access to essential services for children and families. COVAX deliveries and the subsequent vaccination of frontline workers will support health and social care systems to safely resume these critical services.
For Frequently asked questions related to COVID-19 supply and equipment, click here.