Covid-19: Africa vaccine roll-out shifts into second gear
CAPE TOWN – Countries that are reliant on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Covax facility to receive the coronavirus vaccine, can now breathe a collective sigh of relief.
WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, announced on Thursday that in the next few weeks, 24 countries will receive vaccines from the Covax facility.
About 90 million Covid-19 vaccine doses are expected to be delivered in Africa before June, through Covax.
Moeti said “The AU is also working very hard to mobilise and provide additional vaccines to countries.
“With these shipments and vaccines procured through other sources more than half the countries on the continent should have vaccination programmes under way in the coming weeks.
“This is a much awaited leap forward for African countries which have spent months preparing from the sidelines, while wealthier countries raced ahead with vaccinations.
“While celebrating this feat of solidarity, there is still a tremendous need for more investments in vaccine equity, including sharing of surplus doses by wealthier countries.”
Ghana became the first country to receive the vaccines, from the global vaccine sharing scheme.
Six hundred thousand doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India landed in Ghana’s capital Accra on Wednesday.
While neighbouring country, Ivory Coast is set to receive its batch on Friday.
According to a plan presented by Ghanaian health officials, the vaccine will be used to kick-start a vaccination drive that will prioritise front-line health workers and others at high-risk.
Earlier this week, WHO launched the Covax facility indemnity fund, a no-fault compensation programme for the 92 low- and middle-income countries and economies eligible for support via the Gavi Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC) of the Covax Facility.
According to WHO, the compensation programme will offer all eligible individuals a “fast, fair, robust and transparent” process for gaining compensation in the rare event that they experience a serious side effect associated with a Covax-distributed vaccine.