Africa lacks preparedness for virus vaccine roll-out – WHO

Covid-19

Africa lacks preparedness for virus vaccine roll-out – WHO

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!


JOHANNESBURG,South Africa(AFP)— The World Health Organization on Thursday urged African countries to improve their capacity to vaccinate populations against COVID-19, warning the continent was still "far from ready" for mass immunisation.

With three coronavirus vaccines now showing efficacy rates of 70 per cent or more, the UN body called on Africa to "ramp up" preparations for "the continent's largest ever immunisation drive".

The African region is so far only 33 per cent ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.

That figure, based on data provided by 40 countries on a series of "readiness criteria", is well below a desired 80 per cent benchmark.

"Planning and preparation will make or break this unprecedented endeavour," WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti said during a virtual press briefing.

The main concerns are a lack of adequate funding plans, monitoring tools and community outreach.

"There are key logistical and financing gaps where international solidarity will be imperative," Moeti said.

The WHO estimates that rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine to just priority populations in Africa will cost around US$5.7 billion (4.8 billion euros).

African countries will be partially subsidised by the COVAX global Covid-19 distribution scheme.

The World Bank has also set aside US$12 billion (10.1 billion euros) to help developing countries finance their immunisation programs.

Moeti said the aim was to vaccinate three per cent of Africa's population by March 2021, and 20 per cent by the end of the year.

- Africa-based research -

Other health experts at the briefing said additional research was needed to develop vaccines more suitable to the continent.

They noted that a promising vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which tested at a 95 percent success rate at its latest trial, must be kept at -70 degrees celsius -- all but impossible for most hospitals in Africa.

"We really should be doing some of this vaccine research in the African region," said Helen Rees, chair of the WHO's Africa immunisation advisory group.

So far only Egypt, Morocco, Kenya and South Africa have active COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Moeti said it was important for the continent not to fall behind on global preparations for COVID-19 vaccinations even though coronavirus infections had somewhat plateaued.

She noted that Africa has been relatively spared compared to the rest of the world, with over 2.1 million cases and 50,000 deaths recorded to date.

But some countries are beginning to see localised infection surges, particularly in South Africa and the Maghreb.

"We are starting to see an uptick and that gives us a lot of concern," Moeti warned. "The curve is once again trending upwards a little bit."


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaper-login


ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT