JOINT PRESS RELEASE ON COVID–19 VACCINATION ROLL-OUT IN MONGOLIA BY THE GOVERNMENT OF MONGOLIA, UNITED NATIONS RESIDENT COORDINATOR’S OFFICE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) AND UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN’S FUND (UNICEF)
Ulaanbaatar, 23 February 2021 – Today marks a major milestone for Mongolia with the administration of its first batch of vaccine to prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), beginning with the frontline health care workers at high risk. Government of Mongolia has received an initial 150000 doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India, that has received Emergency Use Listing by the World Health Organization (WHO) and approval by Mongolia’s national regulatory authority. Following the arrival of further doses, other priority groups, including older people and those with health issues, which put them at higher risk for severe illness, will be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Government of Mongolia has implemented a number of preventive measures to contain the local epicenters of COVID-19 and spread of the virus. Following the first imported case reported in March 2020, the country has successfully contained the virus’ spread with no local transmissions until November 2020. When the pandemic spread amongst local communities, the Government has continued its efforts to minimize the pandemic’s impact.
The arrival of the first doses of vaccines brings hope, but other prevention measures must continue. Step-by-step vaccination of 60 percent of the population will allow citizens, businesses and organizations to return to normal life style and to this extent, revitalize the economy and thereby provide jobs and increase income.
This time, by imposing the State of All-Out-Readiness in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolians were able to contain the outbreak, limit the spread of the disease, prepare for vaccination roll-out and build the basis for the implementation of the 10 Trillion Comprehensive national plan to protect the public health and recover the economy. Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene said: “The State of All-Out-Readiness ends today and the curfew in the capital has been lifted. Citizens, businesses and organizations have returned to normal work and life. Twelve days, another example of how our nation can face adversity together, are behind us. I would like to express my gratitude to the residents and citizens of the Capital City, who respected and tolerated the Government’s decision during the quarantine. Within the framework of “One door – One test”, 33 local epicenters of coronavirus and 122 cases were identified. In other words, the risk of onward transmission through these 122 people was eliminated and a comprehensive information base for each household was created.
I would like to emphasize that ““One Door – One Test” is a baseline study for further developing a strategy of where we should go tomorrow, based on where we are now. My appreciation goes to all Government workers and employees, who have fulfilled their duty.” Further, Prime Minister has noted that time to calm down is yet to come and urged everyone to adhere to the infection control regime. He also expressed his gratitude to the Government of India, World Health Organization, UN Resident Coordinator Office and UNICEF for their support in obtaining vaccines that meet international standards, as well as the Governments of Russia, China, the European Union, Republic of Korea and Japan.
The United Nations (UN) in Mongolia, with leadership of WHO and UNICEF, is pleased to partner with the Government of Mongolia, in the successful facilitation of its national programme of vaccination against COVID-19. The UN in Mongolia thanks the people of Mongolia for their continued strong solidarity and cooperation with health authorities in implementing the prevention measures, including hand washing, mask wearing and physical distancing, and complying with other restriction measures to minimize spread of the virus.
“I want to congratulate the people of Mongolia for successfully rolling out the first COVID-19 vaccines. Ahead of us is the great challenge in ensuring “vaccines for all” is a reality. It is the UN’s conviction that fair and equitable access to vaccines, backed by well-planned and resourced supply chains, as well as distribution support, is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do,” Tapan Mishra, UN Resident Coordinator in Mongolia, said.
The global effort to develop and deploy safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is truly unprecedented. WHO has been engaging with partners at all levels to ensure that countries, including Mongolia, are ready for the rapid deployment of vaccines, since no country is safe until people in all countries are protected. WHO supported the Government of Mongolia to prepare and submit to COVAX a sound National Vaccine Deployment Plan that demonstrates effective preparation and readiness including planning and coordination, training of healthcare workers and other front-line workers at national and sub-national level, prioritization of target populations, country cold chain capacity readiness and vaccine safety monitoring.
Congratulating the Government of Mongolia and the Minister of Health on successfully bringing the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the country, WHO Representative to Mongolia Dr Sergey Diorditsa said: “Vaccines, in combination with other protective measures, are an important new tool in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO will continue supporting the country to ensure successful and equitable deployment of COVID-19 vaccines by providing technical support, capacity building with health workers, providing necessary equipment and tools to strengthen safe storage and vaccination capacity, and engaging with health workers, frontline workers and communities to ensure that they are well-informed about COVID-19 vaccines and other important prevention measures.”
Globally, UNICEF is leading the procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines for 171 countries including Mongolia on behalf of the COVAX Facility – a partnership between WHO, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). At country level, UNICEF is supporting the Government of Mongolia to ensure the country is ready to introduce and deploy the vaccine. UNICEF is helping to upgrade Mongolia’s capacity to safely and securely store vaccines across the country, across the country, addressing misinformation, and building trust in safe and effective vaccines and in the health systems that deliver them.
UNICEF is giving top-priority to support the COVID-19 vaccination program because although only adults will be vaccinated, children will benefit tremendously: stopping the pandemic will allow children to go fully back to kindergarten, to school, to socialize with friends and to play sports as they have seriously fallen behind in their education and social development.