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Sky News interviews Crown Agents on G7 vaccine pledges and what needs to happen next /

Sunday, 13 June 2021

While world leaders met at the G7 in Cornwall, England, Sky Breakfast News interviewed Crown Agents CEO, Fergus Drake, on how to make the most of the group’s vaccine pledges to ensure the up to 1 billion Covid-19 jabs actually reach people’s arms, and especially so in poorer nations.

Fergus told Sky News that he welcomed the donations as potentially the G7’s biggest success story. However, he also flagged that in order to make it so, the international community needed to ensure additional funding was made available for local transportation and health worker trainings:

“What we don’t want to see are millions of vaccines going to waste because the infrastructure and planning has not been able to happen on the ground over the next critical few months.”, said Fergus.

“The vaccine is only half the story: Every vaccine needs the right syringe, every syringe needs a fully trained community health worker to administer it, those health workers need PPE and above all, there needs to be a willing arm at the end of that chain to receive the vaccine.”

He also pointed out that “the vaccines needed to arrive quickly, they needed to have a long shelf-life, and also couldn’t arrive all at once. If millions arrived in a country like South Sudan, then the infrastructure simply cannot cope- a bit like taking a drink of water through a fire hose.”

During the interview, Fergus also drew attention to the fact that many countries would need to ensure they had cold chain transportation readily available, especially for the Pfizer vaccine, of which 500 million doses will be donated by the US: “This particular vaccine needs to be passed on at -70/-80 degrees, so when it arrives in country, it needs to go from a capital city to a regional centre and then to local primary healthcare units- within that cold chain.”

When asked whether he was confident whether these challenges could be tackled, Fergus said:

“I’d like to use the analogy of a formula 1 pitstop: When everyone is trained and the car arrives, it can be refuelled and all four tires changed in under three seconds. That’s what we need to happen.”

He stressed that ministries of health, national governments and organisations like GAVI, UNICEF, Crown Agents, faith-based organisations and charities needed to be standing by to ensure that countries had one overall cold-chain and the right people to administer the vaccines.

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