AU warns of dire health consequences if Africa misses out on COVID-19 vaccine

AU warns of dire health consequences if Africa misses out on COVID-19 vaccine

The African Union Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) says it will be “extremely terrible” for the world to watch African countries go without a coronavirus vaccine.


The Africa CDC Director, John Nkengasong, said on Thursday that the failure by African countries to receive COVID-19 vaccines in a timely manner could terribly undermine the continent’s development process and upset global efforts to curb the spread of the virus.


“It would be extremely terrible for the world to watch Africa not receive the vaccines, while some countries have bought the vaccines in excess,” he said.


Nkengasong said that African countries would not be able to get enough vaccines from the COVAX vaccine network, an initiative by 172 countries around the world to access the vaccine.


At least, 500 million vaccines would be secured by countries to target immunisation campaigns.


“We would have our developmental process challenged if we do not get this vaccine soon,” he said.


Nkengasong said that African countries, with a population of nearly 1.3 billion people, had never vaccinated so many people at the same time.


While the promising vaccine candidates Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines and Moderna vaccines require low-temperature storage facilities, the ability to have them cover millions of people remains a logistical nightmare.


The Africa CDC official said that availing deep freezers in major cities to ensure temperatures of negative 80 degrees were maintained would be part of designed efforts to deal with the pandemic in Africa.


“Africa has never vaccinated as many as this number required. The coordination is the key issue,” Nkengasong said.


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa plans to host a high-level Task Force meeting on vaccine acquisition on Jan. 20, 2021 to examine access to coronavirus vaccines.


Nkengasong said the meeting would underline the highest efforts to carry out the vaccination in Africa.


He said that unless 60 per cent of the population was vaccinated, the pandemic would become endemic in Africa.


Meanwhile, the AU has advised African countries to work together, under the joint African Union initiative, to secure the vaccines jointly.


“We have endorsed a continental strategy on vaccine approach. We need countries to adhere to the continental strategy; it will backfire if we go alone.


“The Africa CDC is ready to negotiate on behalf of all the others,” Nkengasong said.

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