COVID-19 Vaccine Shipments Boost for Africa
Written by admin on July 30, 2021
Nearly four million doses of coronavirus vaccines from the COVAX initiative arrived in Africa last week, After a near-halt of COVID-19 vaccine shipments to the continent in recent months. There were only 245,000 doses of the vaccine delivered for all of June, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO said that it hoped COVAX would ship 520 million doses to Africa by the end of 2021, in addition to more shots from other sources, including deliveries from the African Union, which is expected to supply around 45 million jabs by the end of the year.
In total, almost 79 million vaccine doses have reached Africa but only 21 million people, or just 1.6 per cent of Africa’s population, are fully vaccinated. Around 30 countries have used more than three-quarters of the vaccines they received, according to WHO.
Reminding that the continent is still “in the throes of the pandemic’s third wave”, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, told a virtual press conference with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “we are not out of the woods yet”.
Despite the vaccine supply crunch, seven countries, including Equatorial Guinea, Mauritius, Morocco and Seychelles, have reached vaccination rates significantly above the continental average. Considering a two-dose schedule, as is the case with most COVID-19 vaccines, 820 million vaccine doses are needed to reach the target of fully vaccinating 30 per cent of Africa’s population by the end of this year.
This implies that Africa needs more than 700 million doses to reach this target. To this end, COVAX has sealed deals with Sinopharm and Sinovac to immediately supply 110 million doses to low-income countries, of which 32.5 million are destined for Africa. “These doses have been allocated to countries this week and will be delivered as soon as countries are ready to receive them”, said Dr Moeti.
And with more vaccine candidates and manufacturing sites at the tail end of the review process for Emergency Use Listing by WHO, the COVAX facility is confident that it will deliver at least 520 million doses to Africa by year’s end. Moreover, the African Union recently announced plans to start delivering 400 million Johnson & Johnson doses to countries throughout the continent.
With the expected influx of doses, WHO underscored the importance of scaling up all the aspects of vaccine rollouts to reach as many people as possible – from mobilizing adequate resources to increasing vaccine confidence.
Noting that initial rollouts prohibited countries from unlocking funding because their costing schemes often omitted critical expenses, such as cold-chain storage, delivery logistics and paying vaccinators, Dr Moeti said, “we continue to support countries to better plan and cost vaccine operational and delivery processes”.