Africa marked the move from planning to action in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines at the World Health Organisation (WHO)-hosted African Health Ministers meeting, as a rapid vaccine rollout is expected in the wake of the WHO listing of two versions of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

In a significant step forward for the African region, national deployment and vaccination plans for COVID-19 vaccines from 35 low-income African countries eligible for free vaccines from the COVAX Facility have been accepted by an independent regional review committee.

The plans are required for countries to receive vaccines from COVAX, the global initiative to ensure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines led by WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

While the regional committee of over 100 experts from six leading global public health bodies certified the deployment plans, it called for more work on setting up systems to manage the logistics and supply chain for vaccines, reaching refugees, migrants and internally displaced people and financing national vaccination campaigns.

In a statement, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti says, “Africa is revving up to rollout COVID-19 vaccines. These thorough vaccine preparation plans will help ensure African countries can hit the ground running in quickly immunizing the most vulnerable people. Meticulous planning is key to ensuring vaccines reach all priority groups, wherever they are, in every single African country.”

Below is the statement by WHO: