Africa to get 90m Covid vaccine doses

Monday, February 8th, 2021 00:00 |

At least 90 million Covid-19 vaccine doses will be shipped to Africa later this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said vaccine arrival will be the largest mass vaccination campaign in the continent.

Global vaccine initiative COVAX has notified African countries the estimated dose allocation for the first phase of Covid-19 vaccine delivery.

First rollout is the AstraZeneca/Oxford AZD1222 vaccine, which is currently in the process of being listed for emergency use by WHO.

“Africa has watched other regions start Covid-19 vaccination campaigns from the side-lines for too long.

This planned roll-out is a critical first step to ensuring the continent gets equitable access to vaccines,” said Dr Moeti said. 

According to Dr Moeti, no one will be safe until everyone is safe- highlighting the need for rich nations to consider equity in sharing of the vaccines.

The world health body also says  final shipments will be based on production capacities and readiness of countries.

Recipient countries are required to submit finalised national deployment and vaccination plans to receive vaccines from the COVAX facility.

Additionally, four African countries will receive around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with countries being required to store and distribute doses at minus 70 degrees Celcius.

To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals.

Some 13 African countries submitted proposals and were evaluated by a multi-agency committee based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends, and the capacity to handle the ultra-cold chain needs of the vaccine.

“We urge African nations to ramp up readiness and finalise their national vaccine deployment plans.

Regulatory processes, cold chain systems and distribution plans need to be in place to ensure vaccines are safely expedited from ports of entry to delivery,” said Dr Moeti.

Initial phase of 90 million doses will support countries to immunise three per cent of the African population most in need of protection, including health workers and other vulnerable groups in the first half of 2021.

 As production capacity increases and more vaccines become available, the aim is to vaccinate at least 20 per cent of Africans by providing up to 600 million doses by the end of 2021.

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