Sending COVID-19 Vaccines Around the World

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Adam Navis and Liz Waid give a short history of how people around the world get vaccines. We will have to use many of these methods to deliver vaccines that everyone needs – the COVID-19 vaccines. How do you get vaccines?

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

It is the year 1803. A four-year old boy is on a boat. He is doing an important job. He is helping to bring a virus from Spain to Central America. There the virus will protect people from an even worse disease. This is one of the first times a vaccine will be traveling across an ocean. And this boy is carrying the vaccine in his own body.

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Voice 2 

In the past, vaccines were transported like this. Today, we have better technology. But health experts still struggle to send important vaccines to the farthest places on earth. Today’s Spotlight is on the ways people transport vaccines around the world.

Voice 1 

Vaccines are a kind of medicine. They protect people against deadly diseases. The first vaccine was for the terrible disease smallpox. In some parts of the world, half of the people who got sick with smallpox died. But doctors in Europe had found a way to protect people from getting smallpox. They infected people with a similar virus called cowpox. Cowpox did not make people as sick. When they got better from cowpox, their bodies knew how to protect them from getting the smallpox virus too.

This graphic shows the steps Edward Jenner followed to create the smallpox vaccine
This graphic shows the steps Edward Jenner followed to create the smallpox vaccine;Srcyr16, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Voice 2 

In the 1800s, doctors took fluid from the cowpox on one person. Then they injected the fluid into another person. Soon whole villages of people in Europe were safe from smallpox.

Voice 1 

But across the ocean many people were still dying from smallpox. Doctors wanted to bring the cowpox virus to these places. They needed a way to transport the cowpox virus a very far distance. So Spanish doctors took 22 young boys on a long trip to Central America. These boys were orphans who had no parents. They were between three and 10 years old.

Voice 2 

Before the trip began, doctors infected two of the boys with cowpox. Every 10 days of the trip, doctors took fluid from the infected boys’ cowpox. Then they infected the next two boys. By the time the boys reached Central America, only one of them had a spot of cowpox left on his body. But that was enough!

Voice 1 

People celebrated the boys for bringing cowpox to protect them. Happy crowds cheered with bells. The boys were placed with new families. They were promised a good education. Because of these boys, as many as 12,000 people were protected from smallpox in just two months in this area. From there, the vaccine could spread into the wider Americas.

Voice 2 

But today we wonder about these boys. Did they want to help in this way? Did they get to decide? Probably not. Some were too young to even understand what was happening to them. But because of these boys, many lives were saved.

Voice 1 

Authorities can transport vaccines in much better ways today. Scientists and doctors have learned a lot since the 1800s. But again, we must send a very important vaccine all around the world. Today, people in every country need the COVID-19 vaccine. How will we transport vaccines for COVID-19 to parts of the world that are hard to reach?

Voice 2 

Transporting the COVID-19 vaccines is challenging. The vaccines must be kept very cold. There are parts of West and Central Africa where people do not always have electricity. UNICEF is working to set up new refrigerators there. Solar power from the sun will help to keep these refrigerators cold. Jean-Cedric Meeus works for UNICEF. He says:

Voice 3 

“West and Central Africa is one of the most complex places you will find. We are transporting COVID-19 vaccines to major cities. But we must also deliver them to very remote villages. We found that there was not enough cold storage. Then we set about building almost 20,000 solar-powered refrigerators — all the way from the coast to the forests.”

A truck which transports SDD refrigerators to Health Posts. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mulugeta Ayene
A truck which transports SDD refrigerators to Health Posts. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mulugeta Ayene;Solar Direct Drive (SDD) refrigerators P” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by UNICEF Ethiopia
Voice 1 

Robin Nandy also works for UNICEF. He explains that they will use many forms of transportation to get the vaccines where they need to go. COVID vaccines will travel by boat to small islands and to villages along the Amazon River. Snowmobiles will have to transport vaccines in winter conditions to parts of Alaska that are very far away. Nandy imagines vaccines will travel by motorcycle, drone, elephant, horse, and even camel. He explains:

Voice 4 

“This has never happened before. We are trying to send a new vaccine to every country in the world in the same year.”

Voice 2 

Some far away island countries have no reported cases of COVID yet. But it is still important to get the vaccine to the people there. These communities may have fewer medical resources. If someone there gets COVID-19, the disease could spread very quickly.

Voice 1 

Authorities may even start using drones to transport vaccines to hard-to-reach parts of the world. These small machines can be controlled from a far distance. Drones can reach places like rural India. Moz Siddiqui works for Gavi, the global vaccine alliance. He explained to the Thomas Reuters Foundation:

Voice 5 

“Every single COVID-19 vaccine is so important. That is why it is necessary to make sure that countries have the support and tools to transport vaccines quickly and well to those who need them. Drones help us by adding another kind of transportation. They are a special solution to a problem faced by many countries.”

Voice 2 

Transporting vaccines has often been difficult. Little boys once sailed across the ocean. Today drones fly with no pilot at all. People have always needed to be creative to send vaccines across long distances. And they will need to continue to be creative today.

COVAX Vaccines, Moderna, Ukraine, July 18, 2021
COVAX Vaccines, Moderna, Ukraine, July 18, 2021;COVAX Vaccines, Moderna, Ukraine, July 1” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by usembassykyiv
Voice 1 

By early August 2021, almost 15 percent of the world’s population had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. And health experts were giving over 38 million doses of the vaccine each day. But there is still a lot of work to do to get these vaccines everywhere they need to go.

Voice 2 

Is a COVID-19 vaccine easy to get where you live? Are organizations doing enough to get it to you? Tell us what you think. Be sure to also check out our other programs about vaccines on YouTube. You can email us at You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Megan Nollet. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Sending COVID-19 Vaccines Around the World’.

Voice 2 

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Are most vaccines available where you live? Is the COVID-19 vaccine available to you? Are organizations doing enough to get it to the people of your country?



Join the discussion

  • In Vietnam, the government permits the export of a variety of vaccines from the Covax program such as AstraZeneca, Prizer, Moderna, Sinofram. AstraZeneca is the most popular vaccine in my country with approximately 14.3 million doses. This is a good signal for my country and I hope that these terrible days with my country are over soon.
    Despite the fact that my family and I can not access the COVID-19 vaccine today, I hope that we are assisted with the vaccination program in recent days.
    In fact, the number of vaccines is enough for 70% of citizens afterward. I believe that the community is trying to get products and export vaccines in order to get herd community in the future.
    I hope you are staying safe and healthy during this period.

    • Yse there are available in IRAQ but the people not went to take the ingection, becuse the people not trust the minstery of helth the people they think this vaccins are fak.

  • I have got 1dose vaccine covid 19 two months ago, I not yet get 2doses because the vaccines not available in my country of astra zeneca vaccines now. Everyday my country got over 3000 cases infected covid 19 and I hope will soon had the vaccines again for us

  • In my country, the vaccines easy to transport to people. But, the problem is resources of the COVID-19 vaccines. Another country, highly income country, the vaccines is to much to use and even it will expire. I hope the country above will share a lot vaccines to remain country. Even if the disease have lasting forever.

  • Dear Liz Waid, Adam Navis, Michio Ozaki, Megam Nollet, and the spotlight team:
    Good Evening. First, I want to thank you for bringing us more one important theme. Vaccines. Thank you.
    1- Are most vaccines available where you live?
    Answer: Yes, they are. We received a donation from The United State of America of two million doses of vaccines from the AstraZeneca laboratory. Thank you very much. We have coronavac vaccines from the Butatan laboratory of Brazil together China laboratory. And we also have the Pfizer vaccines from The United State of America.
    2- Is COVID 19 vaccine available to you?
    Answer: Yes, It is. On January 21, 2021, I took the first dose of coronavac vaccine at the hospital where I work for.
    On February 16, 2021, I took the second dose of coronavac vaccine at the hospital where I work for.
    And on October 26, 2021, I took the third dose of Pfizer vaccines at the hospital where I work for Hospital das Clínicas de São Paulo Brazil.
    3- Are organizations doing enough to get it to the people of your country?
    Answer: Yes, they are. Our Governor João Doria was the first leader of the Government to bring the Coronavac vaccine to Brazil to vaccinate the Brazil citizens. After that the Federal Government together The President Jair Bolsonaro brought more vaccines to Brazil to immunity our Brazilian people. Now everybody is vaccinated. Once again, I want to thank you to give us the donation of two million doses of Astrazeneca vaccines. Thank you very much. I really thank you from my deep heart
    Finally, As a nurse, my team and I have worked so much during COVID 19 pandemic. Besides we have lost a lot of patients due to COVID 19.
    I wish you the best and stay with GOD.
    Severino Ramos da Silva

  • 3. Tme ı have vacinated, no proplem about reaching to covid 19 vacine, come from Turkey,, our country is one number,, we pleased to much from our authorities,,

  • Yes there are most vaccines avialable where I live but this vaccins started deceacing and peaople suffer to take this treatement and healthy of body started to bieng destroyed espially patients to suffer for covid 19 But thanks for god because he made us struggle and patience to face a bad situation to healpful us and also with help organisations to fight this a bad issue and my country can we provide all vaccins and treatment there more people to heal but another people lose life them they don’t have a strong body to face this sick. in this time of virus covide 19 I feel a big sad for bad situation and also a lot of people to died but this is fate and they must be accept and satisfay this fate.

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