The delivery of COVID-19 vaccine to Africa through COVAX facility, donations and direct purchases from manufacturers has accelerated, hence injecting vitality in the continent’s fight against the pandemic, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said Thursday.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said that significant progress in vaccine deliveries after a prolonged crunch will boost efforts to suppress a third wave sweeping across the continent.
“With much larger COVID-19 vaccine deliveries expected to arrive in July and August, African countries must use this time to prepare to rapidly expand the roll-out,” Moeti said in a statement, stressing that African governments and partners should expand vaccination sites, improve cold chain capabilities and embark on community-based awareness campaigns to boost uptake of COVID-19 jabs.
According to Moeti, more than 1.6 million vaccine doses were delivered to Africa in the last fortnight through the COVAX facility while more than 20 million doses from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer-BioNTech are expected to arrive soon.
She said that 49 countries have been notified of the allocations they are expected to receive, adding that significant donations from some European countries will be delivered to the continent in the coming weeks.
So far, 66 million doses have been delivered to Africa, including 40 million secured through bilateral deals, 25 million through COVAX and 800,000 supplied by the African Union African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. And 16 million people, or less than 2 percent of Africa’s population, are fully vaccinated amid plans to supply 520 million doses to the continent by the end of 2021.
COVAX partners have intensified negotiations with manufacturers to secure additional vaccine consignment and inoculate high risk groups against the coronavirus, Moeti said, noting that WHO has partnered with African countries to conduct a review of the initial vaccine rollout in the continent to help inform successful rollout of the jabs during the second phase.
According to Moeti, countries that have registered successful rollout of the vaccine so far include Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Ghana and Rwanda.
Richard Mihigo, coordinator of Immunization and Vaccines Development Program at WHO Regional Office for Africa, said that an accelerated vaccine supply to the continent will boost efforts to suppress new coronavirus strains that are behind the current surges. Enditem