Fake news hampers Ivory Coast’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout
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CAPE TOWN - The spread of misinformation around Covid-19 and vaccines continues to hamper Ivory Coast’s vaccine rollout for the virus as well as its overall response to the pandemic now in its second year.
The West African country, which has reported over 46,000 Covid-19 infections and 292 deaths, is battling vaccine hesitation amongst the broader public being fed with fake news. While this problem is not unique to it, the country is lagging behind others in the region when it comes to vaccination rates.
According to France24, Ivory Coast has received 504,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) programme, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to the essential drugs.
So far, Ivory Coast has used just over half of the vaccines, which expire in September.
According to health authorities, it also has 50,000 vaccines donated by the Indian embassy, which are currently lying dormant in a refrigerator and will expire in October.
The government set a target of vaccinating 20 percent of the population, starting with front-line workers.
According to media outlet Devex.com, health experts believe Ivory Coast’s low rate of inoculation may be the result of hesitancy and are working to dispel misinformation circulating about the vaccine.
The Washington Post quoted Daniel Ekra, the epidemiologist in charge of Ivory Coast’s vaccination programme, as saying there had been a systematic refusal of the vaccine, because people thought Africans were being used as guinea pigs.
According to France24, in April 2020 residents destroyed a Covid-19 testing centre that was being built, amidst similar misconceptions.
Local media reported that protesters were in part triggered by a Facebook post from a pro-opposition cyber-activist who suggested that the site would be used to house sick Covid-19 patients and was a government conspiracy to kill people in the area.