The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it wants to see accelerated rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.

The WHO-led COVAX initiative plans to ship about 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the African continent this month alone.

The shipment will see the continent embark on the largest ever mass vaccination campaign.

Coordinator of Immunisation and Vaccine Development Programme at the WHO Regional office for Africa, Dr Richard Mihigo, says the continent needs billions of vaccine doses to inocculate 60-70% of the population with two doses across the continent.

“But I think it’s a good start. It’s a great beginning…a beginning of hope that now the vaccine can begin to be rolled out across the continent. We have been waiting for this for a long time – and I think this will renew the commitment of the people who are at the frontline to continue fighting this pandemic,” he says.

So far, at least eight African countries have begun to vaccinate their population, with Zimbabwe having began its drive on Thursday and South Africa on Wednesday.

Discussing COVID-19 in Africa:

Inequality

Many rich countries around the world have already started rolling out vaccines to the population, while many African countries have yet to vaccinate their healthcare workers.

The United Nations Secretary General has revealed that 10 countries have administered 75% of all COVID-19 vaccines globally.

Antonio Guterres has called for the establishment of a Global Vaccination Plan led by an Emergency Task Force under the auspices of the G20.

This as countries led by the United Kingdom moved to introduce a new resolution that would establish ceasefires to allow for vaccinations of the 160 million people caught up in regions of insecurity.

Mihigo says, “We know that by the end of this week, we know that over 200 million doses will be administered across the world and when you look at the situation in Africa very very few doses have been administered… I think it’s time for countries in this region to also receive their equal share of vaccines…”

The UN says 10 countries administered 75% of all COVID-19 vaccines globally: 

The International Council of Nurses has meanwhile thrown its weight behind the World Health Organisation’s Vaccine Equity Declaration.

The declaration urges countries to mobilise their resources so that access to immunisation will be determined by need rather than wealth or geographic location.

Howard Catton weighs in on the debate on the race to secure vaccines: