Government can help the continent’s Covid-19 vaccine take up: Ntutela

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Pharmacology expert Dr Siya Ntutela, says stronger advocacy from government could go a long way in helping the continent’s Covid-19 vaccine take up. Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccination plant at Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape risks shutting down due to a lack of orders.

Aspen Pharmacare, negotiated a licensing deal in November to package and sell Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and distribute it across Africa. While there’s been a recent up-tick in covid-19 cases in South Africa, the latest World Health Organisation figures put Africa’s vaccination rate at only a sixth of adults. However, there has been a rapid spread of the less pathological Omicron variant across the continent.

Ntutela remains optimistic and says that, “We all know that most vaccines come from Europe, and the Americas, and now with a plant ready to serve and ready to supply many African countries. I think we should be able to see more African countries, coming down South to order these vaccines. It is worrying? Yes it is, but I don’t think to that level where we could be saying let’s throw the baby with the bathwater. Through government pushing advocacy towards these vaccines, we are likely to see more Africans going to take this vaccine.”