Africa unlikely to get enough Covid-19 vaccine doses, Africa CDC head says
John Nkengasong has urged richer nations to help poorer ones boost vaccination programmes to protect their citizens
Nairobi — Countries that have ordered more Covid-19 vaccines than they need should consider distributing excess doses to Africa, the head of the continent's disease control body said on Thursday.
As African countries begin to feel the effects of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said it was unlikely to secure enough vaccine shots. Many African states are relying on Covax, a global Covid-19 vaccine allocation plan co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is working to lower prices and discourage hoarding.
“Some countries have got like three times to four, five times more than what they need,” Nkengasong told a news briefing, adding that those can help poorer ones kickstart vaccination programmes to protect their citizens. He did not name any states.
The WHO has repeatedly called on governments to make a vaccine protecting against Covid-19 a “public good”. Britain became the first Western nation to begin the mass-vaccination of its population against Covid-19, and other countries, such as Canada and the US, may also do the same in the next few weeks.
The UN should convene a special session to discuss ways that will ensure an equitable distribution and access to vaccines, Nkengasong said.
The African Union-owned CDC organisation is working with the Afreximbank and the World Bank to figure out how to raise funds for the procurement of the vaccines needed for the continent. In October, Nkengasong said Afreximbank was ready to raise up to $5bn to purchase Covid-19 vaccines.
Cases and deaths were rising in Africa, Nkengasong said, adding that more vigilance, particularly mask wearing and social distancing, was needed as end-of-year holidays approached.
“The second wave is here,” he said.
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