John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC. Picture: ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES/MINASSE WONDIMU HAILU
John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC. Picture: ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES/MINASSE WONDIMU HAILU

Nairobi — As deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa finally pick up, many nations are struggling with the logistics of accelerating their inoculation campaigns, the head of Africa’s disease control body said on Thursday.

Only 6.6% of Africa’s population of 1.2-billion is fully vaccinated, John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a virtual news conference. That means Africa is far from reaching the AU’s aim of fully vaccinating 70% of people by the end of 2022.

“What we are seeing now is a lot more vaccines coming in and the uptake is challenged because of the logistics and delivery,” Nkengasong said. “It’s not necessarily about hesitancy, it’s about moving vaccines from the airport to the arms [of people], it’s about logistics.”

He named the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Cameroon as encountering particular logistical challenges but said many other African countries face similar problems.

The DRC has so far administered about 168,000 doses of Covid-19  vaccines, a Reuters tracker showed, enough to have fully vaccinated just 0.1% of the population.

In April, authorities reallocated to other African countries most of the 1.7-million Covid-19 vaccine doses the DRC had received a month earlier from the Covax vaccine-sharing facility because they were set to expire.

Across Africa, authorities successfully conduct routine mass vaccination campaigns against diseases such as measles. But many struggled earlier in the year when Covid-19 doses arrived, citing shortages of funding, training and cold storage.

Of about 403-million doses of Covid-19 vaccines distributed to 54 African countries, only 55% of them, or 221-million, have been administered.

SA has asked Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to delay delivery of more Covid-19 vaccines because it now has too many in stock, as vaccine hesitancy slows its inoculation campaign, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Reuters

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