Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The United Nations Children's Fund said Monday it will stockpile more than half-billion syringes by the end of 2020 in anticipation of a COVID-19 vaccine.
UNICEF said it plans to stockpile 520 million syringes in warehouses as part of a broader plan for use through 2021.
Presuming there are enough doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, UNICEF said it ultimately expects to deliver a billion syringes on top of 620 million it will supply for other vaccination programs.
"Vaccinating the world against COVID-19 will be one of the largest mass undertakings in human history, and we will need to move as quickly as the vaccines can be produced," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement. "In order to move fast later, we must move fast now.
"By the end of the year, we will already have over half a billion syringes pre-positioned where they can be deployed quickly and cost effectively. That's enough syringes to wrap around the world one and a half times."
UNICEF said it will work with global vaccine alliance Gavi, which has created a COVAX Facility it says will use "collective purchasing power" to negotiate prices for the vaccine.
In addition to syringes, UNICEF will buy 5 million "safety boxes" to dispose of the syringes and needles. The agency said it's also working with the World Health Organization to ensure the vaccines are stored at the right temperature for potency.
The U.N. agency says it provides vaccines for almost half of the world's children.
Several potential COVID-19 vaccines are in development worldwide. Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government program to develop a vaccine, has so far paid $11 billion to several companies that have agreed to supply at least 100 million doses.