COVAX delivers 82 million doses of vaccines to Africa

BY: Della Russel Ocloo

Thirteen African countries received nearly four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX facility last week, a marginal increase from the 245,000 doses received in June 2021.

This brings the continent’s total vaccine receipts under the facility to 82 million, according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

Similarly, vaccine shipments to the continent increased as a result of supply from multiple sources.

Speaking during a virtual press conference organised by the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) today (Thursday), Dr Moeti indicated that COVAX was hoping to ship 520 million doses to Africa by the end of 2021.

Deliveries improving

Dr Moeti pointed out that vaccine deliveries from the African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) were also picking up, with a projected rise to 10 million each month from September 2021 with the hope to meet the 45 million doses they had projected to achieve under the scheme by the end of the year.

 “So far, 21 million people representing just 1.6 per cent of Africa’s population are fully vaccinated and considering the two dose schedule, 820 million of vaccine doses are needed to reach the target of fully vaccinating 30 per cent of Africa’s population by the end of 2021”, Dr Moeti said.

She said WHO expected high-income countries that had completed vaccination of most of its population to join the United States and increase the doses they were proposing to deliver to Africa.

COVAX, she intimated, recently clinched new deals with Sinopharm and Sinovac to rapidly supply 110 million more doses to low-income countries with Africa expected to receive 32.5 million.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel on vaccine deliveries to Africa and I urge all countries with surplus doses to urgently share in the spirit of life-saving solidarity and enlightened self-interest because no country is safe until all countries are safe,” she said.

Dr Moeti also stressed that with the expected influx of vaccines, African countries would be able to scale up all aspects of their vaccine roll-out programmes to reach as many people as possible by way of mobilisation.

Africa CDC

The Director of Africa CDC, Dr John Nkengasong, indicated that although discussions were being raised about a third dose for the vaccinated population to serve as a booster dose due to increased infections, the priority of the centre was to get many of the citizens of the member states to receive the two doses.

While commending the continent’s development partners for the vaccine donations, he appealed to them to ensure that donations being made had the needed shelf life of at least three to four months away from expiry.