The World Health Organization on Thursday, January 28, announced that at least 30 percent of the African population will be vaccinated against Coronavirus before the end of the year.
AFP reported that WHO Africa’s immunisation coordinator Richard Mihigo said the WHO-backed Covax vaccine sharing facility and the AU’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), would jointly deliver enough doses to vaccinate between 30 to 35 percent of the continent’s population this year.
Speaking during a virtual press briefing, Mihigo said;
“Given the latest developments within the Covax facility, there is a very good prospect that the objective to supply 600 million doses by the end of 2021 will definitely be reached.
“The Covax vaccines will cover at least 20 percent of the population, with the rest “complemented” by AVATT. “
While the AU has so far secured 270 million doses through AVATT, Mihigo warned “some of those may not become available soon” and that the initiative could “realistically” only expect to reach between 10 and 15 percent of the continent in 2021.
He added that WHO was exploring “additional candidates”, with particularly high hopes for Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine. The health agency cordinator also revealed that the first Covax doses were likely to reach the continent by mid-February, and that “by March we will definitely see most of the countries start vaccinating”.
“It is a slow start but we are expecting that in the coming months things are going to ramp up.”
While it is estimated that Africa will need 1.5 billion vaccine doses to immunise 60 percent of its 1.3 billion inhabitants (the threshold for herd immunity against COVID-19), only a small handful of African countries have started vaccinating their populations, including Guinea, Mauritius and the Seychelles.
The continent has fallen behind in the global vaccine scramble and most African countries are relying on the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Union (AU) to shoulder at least part of their innoculation campaigns — providing vaccines and helping to finance their rollout.