African health ministers to review strategy to avoid surge in COVID-19 pandemic

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Africa is preparing itself to avoid another surge of the COVID -19 pandemic, as it watches India closely.

African health ministers will meet this Saturday, to review the strategy that the continent set at the beginning in 2020, to tackle the pandemic and seek better ways to keep the continent with minimal cases.

Africa has reported over 4.5 million cases of COVID -19 and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is concerned that the numbers are rising fast.

Uganda, Kenya and Morocco are reporting some cases of the variant found in India. This will be the main agenda of an emergency meeting of continental health leaders this coming weekend.

“The meeting will address the need for an adopted strategy which will be looking more around the areas of ‘how do we look at monitoring – more monitoring, surveillance for these variants, surveillance (of) hotspots? How do we then intensify our prevention efforts? Like in the areas of vaccines increasing and, maintaining public health measure … are all part of prevention; oxygen and the treatment, making sure that we have enough therapeutics that can help us,” says Director of Africa CDC, Dr John Nkengasong.

African Health Ministers to review strategy to avoid another surge of COVID -19 pandemic

Dr Nkengasong says some of the factors like mass gatherings and laxity in prevention measures that led India to its current state, are very visible in countries across the continent.

“Our health system, as we know, is very fragile. We do not have the kind of supplies that India has. So, we don’t even want to get there. So, I will leave it. Let’s rally around, build our defense to ensure that we put the right set of measure in place and hit the reset button and I’m sure that we can avoid the scenario.”

Unpacking rising COVID-19 cases in India with Dr Anant Bhan:

The continent is also concerned that the situation in India will prevent it from reaching its herd immunity by its target of 2022. The continent has only received 37 million doses of vaccines, most of which are Oxford AstraZeneca manufactured by the Serum institute of India.

Ban on exporting AstraZeneca

India maintains a ban on exporting AstraZeneca vaccine. African countries that have received their first batches of the vaccine, under the WHO supported Covax facility, don’t know when they will get more to offer second jabs to some of the of their citizens and allow others to get their first.

The continent is now heavily relying on a deal it has made with Johnson & Johnson to purchase 400 million doses of its vaccines, which the Africa CDC says should begin arriving from July.