Africa in dire need of 20 million doses to administer second Covid shots — WHO

Africa needs at least 20 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the next one-and-half months to get shots in the arms of the people who received a first dose within the eight to twelve week recommended interval between doses.

A single dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is said to give around 70 per cent protection against the disease. The booster shot provided with a 12-week interval provides 81 per cent protection for an extended period.

For Africa to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of the population by September, the countries need about 200 million COVID-19 doses.

This follows a call made by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus at the World Health Assembly earlier this week for all member states to support a massive push for vaccination.

As of May 27, approximately 28 million COVID-19 doses of different vaccines have been administered in Africa, which represents less than two doses administered per 100 people in Africa. Globally, 1.5 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered.

Read also: Kenya eyes 72,000 AstraZeneca doses surrendered by South Sudan due to slow uptake

“As supplies dry up, dose-sharing is an urgent, critical and short-term solution to ensuring that Africans at the greatest risk of COVID-19 get the much-needed protection,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Africa needs vaccines now. Any pause in our vaccination campaigns will lead to lost lives and lost hope.”

“We know that cases are rising and the clock is ticking so we urgently appeal to countries that have vaccinated their high-risk groups to speed up the dose-sharing to fully protect the most vulnerable people,” she added.

France has given over 31,000 doses from her domestic stock to Mauritania and plans to give out another 74,400 even as the European country pledges to share 500,000 more doses with six African countries in a few weeks.

The EU and US have also committed to share over 100 million doses and 80 million doses of vaccines respectively for lower-income countries, and other high-income countries.

African countries that are unable to use all their vaccines are also sharing them across the continent.

Dr Moeti says that; “while this prevents wastage, redistributing doses is costly and countries must roll out all available doses as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, more than 100 WHO member states, including 54 African countries are co-sponsoring a draft resolution led by Ethiopia aimed at strengthening local production, technology transfers and innovation while considering the agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights and intellectual property rights with a view to boost local production.

A total of 40 African countries joined a recent WHO training to build manufacturing capacities and WHO is working with the AU to support the African Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa, supporting feasibility studies and potential technology transfers on request, sharing expertise and helping forge crucial partnerships.

Kenya has rolled out its second phase of vaccination after receiving 72,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from South Sudan.

The country has so far vaccinated over 963,000 people against the virus.

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