Access to COVID-19 supplies

In July 2020, we announced support for UNICEF to secure essential COVID-19 supplies for low- and middle-income countries, including diagnostic tests and clinical management supplies.

The partnership

Our partnership with UNICEF is supporting the global children’s charity to increase and accelerate procurement of COVID-19 medical supplies on behalf of low- and middle-income countries.

  • MedAccess has provided a procurement guarantee of up to $50 million to UNICEF.
  • UNICEF is using the guarantee to support its high-volume purchasing orders with manufacturers to respond to country demand for medical supplies and diagnostic tests at affordable prices.

As one of the world’s largest volume procurers of medical products, UNICEF secures sustainable supply at lower prices. This means low- and middle-income countries that use UNICEF’s procurement mechanisms are less exposed to volatile prices and shortages of COVID-19 supplies.

In March 2021, we announced a one-year extension to our guarantee for UNICEF.

Checking a baby's temperature

Development impact

Our partnership enables UNICEF to increase and accelerate procurement of vital COVID-19 medical supplies on behalf of low- and middle-income countries.

We reported that by the end of 2021:

  • >75m COVID-19 and other childhood vaccines supplied 
  • >3.7m COVID-19 tests and diagnostics equipment supplied 
  • Nearly 1.8b syringes secured for 2021 and beyond using special contracts 
  • 95 countries received pre-financing support for essential products in 2021 
  • 7 months faster (on average) to access supplies than without pre-financing support through standard subscriptions. 

The products

UNICEF plays a unique and important role in the procurement of medical supplies on behalf of low- and middle-income countries and our guarantee is helping it to achieve its mission.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, UNICEF has procured more than a quarter of a billion items, including oxygen, respirators and diagnostic tests, to help countries protect their people.

Read more about UNICEF’s COVID-19 procurement.

Why we acted

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the SARS-Cov-2 virus (COVID-19) a pandemic. By the end of 2020, there had been an estimated 83 million cases of the virus globally and 1.8 million deaths.

COVID-19 remains the most widespread public health crisis in more than a century. During the initial phase of the crisis, supply outstripped demand for even the most basic medical products. Many countries, including those with significant purchasing power, found themselves unable to provide vital equipment to frontline workers battling the virus.

This situation was even more acute in low- and middle-income countries. Restricted supply, export bans and volatile prices meant that many countries were unable to access COVID-19 supplies, leaving their doctors and nurses exposed to the virus as they tried to protect others.

Many countries affected by COVID-19 already have significant burdens of other infectious diseases, such as HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. Reports since the onset of COVID-19 have indicated that health systems that were already under pressure dealing with other diseases faced being overrun, resulting in people with other illnesses missing out on care.

As the virus spread rapidly around the world, it was clear that UNICEF would play a leading role in helping ensure access to essential products to tackle COVID-19 on top of its regular work procuring vaccines and other items on behalf of countries.

MedAccess’ guarantee supports UNICEF’s procurement of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 supplies, such as early childhood vaccines against measles, polio and pneumococcal disease.