Lungi, Sierra Leone – On March 8, Chargé d’Affaires Elaine French joined Dr. Austin Demby, Minister of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), and Solomon Jamiru, representing Interim National Coordinator Kellie Conteh of the National COVID-19 Emergency Response Centre (NaCOVERC), at Lungi Airport to welcome the arrival of the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the international COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) initiative. The arrival of vaccines, Chargé French noted, represented a major milestone in “our shared commitment to ensuring a coordinated response to and recovery from this pandemic — and our hope for a healthy and more resilient future.”
Chargé French, Dr. Demby and NACOVERC spokesperson Mr. Jamiru were joined by members of the diplomatic community, and representatives of the United Nations, World Health Organization, and UNICEF for the arrival event, symbolizing the collaborative nature of the COVID-19 response in Sierra Leone. Chargé French commended “the Government of Sierra Leone — as well as all of the governmental and non-governmental partner organizations who have worked tirelessly to contribute to COVAX and COVID response measures in Sierra Leone.”
The United States is committed to working with partners across the globe to end the devastating public health and economic effects of this pandemic. As part of this commitment, President Biden announced $4 billion of support to the international vaccine facility COVAX, which facilitates global access to COVID-19 vaccines. On Friday, March 5th, the United States made good on this promise transferring the initial $2 billion to Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance, in support of the COVAX initiative. USAID is administering this program on behalf of the U.S. Government, providing both vaccines and associated delivery services to participating countries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is assisting the MOHS in planning for the deployment of COVAX vaccines in Sierra Leone.
Under the Global Health Security Agenda, the United States has provided long-term support toward building the capacity of human and animal health systems in Sierra Leone and globally, to prevent, detect and
respond to public health threats. “COVID has shown us that no nation can act alone in the face of a pandemic,” stated Chargé French. “We must all come together to get COVAX the resources it needs to vaccinate not just 20 percent of populations, but a much larger share of the world’s population by 2022. The United States remains dedicated to working with Sierra Leone on COVID-19 as we continue to advance global health and health security through U.S. foreign assistance programs, including support to COVAX.”