The African Union’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said in Addis Ababa on Thursday it is intensifying efforts to prepare countries in Africa to receive and immunize at least 60 per cent of the African population starting April 2021.
Africa CDC Director, John Nkengasong, said a vaccine readiness plan for Africa seeking to enhance the country’s preparedness to obtain, store and deliver the vaccines currently being prepared for delivery and distribution will depend on certain factors which are still part of stage IV of the clinical trials.
“We are quite encouraged by the progress that has been made in the fight against this pandemic. In 300 days, we have a vaccine that has been conceived. We have information on its efficacy which is a range of between 70-90 per cent. It is promising to see this happening,” Nkengasong told reporters.
US firms, Moderna and Pfizer, have both confirmed the development of a possible vaccine for the virus, which requires between moderate to extremely low-temperature storage to remain potent.
Nkengasong said the low temperatures for the vaccine storage will require very stringent health and safety measures which might make it quite difficult to rapidly make it available in some remote locations.
While the distribution of the vaccines in Africa is not expected until at least April to June 2021, Nkengasong said the goal of the AU will be to ensure that Africa made a joint purchase of the vaccines, with a plan for 1.5 billion doses of the vaccine at US$10 billion already in the pipeline.
“Our goal is to achieve 60 per cent coverage of the African population with the vaccines. We believe this is what will give us some level of herd immunity,” Nkengasong said.
He said a consortium to manage the acquisition of the vaccine from international pharmaceutical companies is already in place to ensure that the centralized acquisition plan is underway.
The African Import and Export Bank (Afreximbank) is working jointly with the AU to finance the plan to purchase the vaccines on behalf of African countries, he said.
To guarantee proper immunity and better management of the vaccine, the AU CDC officials said efforts must be made to ensure that a majority of the continent’s population is immunized.
This, they said, might mean that the entire population of Africa, especially the most vulnerable groups, such as people with existing conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, must be given priority.
The first group of critical personnel, such as healthcare workers, should be targeted first before the vulnerable groups are targeted, the AU official said.
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