Remarks by Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, at press briefing on COVAX

As delivered

22 January 2021

New York, 22 January - “The COVID-19 pandemic has turned everyone’s life upside down.  And children, in particular, will bear its consequences for years.

“The pandemic has disrupted their education, health and protection. It is affecting their mental health and pushing their families into poverty,  

“They need their lives back!  A COVID vaccine is a key step towards that recovery.

“With today’s announcements, we draw one step closer to the beginning of vaccination efforts under the COVAX facility. One step closer to extending the fight against COVID-19 into more of the world’s poorest countries. One step closer to achieving our goal of making sure that no country is cut off from COVID vaccines.

“But there is plenty of work yet to do.

“UNICEF is currently assessing a series of bids in the COVID-19 vaccine tender launched in November. We are negotiating long-term supply agreements with a number of manufacturers – agreements that will pave the way for the world’s poorest countries to access doses of quality-assured vaccines.

“As part of this effort, I’m pleased to announce that UNICEF has awarded Pfizer a contract following the tender, and we are now in discussions to finalize the supply agreement.

“Thanks to UNICEF’s negotiations and our decades of experience procuring and delivering vaccines in every corner of the world, we have the expertise and know-how to do the job.

“Although today represents a milestone moment, important challenges remain for the unprecedented logistical exercise of rolling out vaccines in every corner of the globe.

“UNICEF and our partners are working with governments around the clock to ensure that countries are ready to receive the vaccines, with appropriate cold chain equipment in place and health workers trained to dispense them. UNICEF is also playing a lead role in efforts to foster trust in vaccines by tracking and addressing misinformation.

“In the coming weeks, UNICEF will begin transporting vaccines, together with syringes and safety boxes, to countries around the world. We will work with airlines, and freight and logistics providers to ensure safe and timely delivery.

“Last year we saw truly unique human ingenuity to successfully develop effective and safe vaccines in record time. This year, we turn to the biggest logistical challenge the world has ever seen. And we need all hands on deck.

“With that in mind, allow me to say how pleased we are that the United States is set to join the COVAX Facility. I’m confident that, with its expertise and resources, the U.S. will give this global effort, and UNICEF’s role in it, a major boost.

“The global unity, commitment and support for the COVAX Facility is truly a remarkable demonstration of what we can accomplish when we all – governments, NGOs, pharmaceutical companies, other members of the private sector, and the UN itself – work together. Because we know that in the race to vaccinate the world, there are no winners unless we ALL win. Every country. Together.”


Media contacts

Sabrina Sidhu
Tel: +1 917 476 1537


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube