World Health Organisation (WHO) Chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says they are working on accelerating the rollout of vaccines in Africa to save lives and get their economies back on track.

Addressing a virtual briefing on Monday, Ghebreyesus said it is in every nation’s economic interest to support vaccine equity.

The WHO chief has stressed the importance of working with devolved economies to assist African countries rollout the vaccines.

“The World stood on a brink of a catastrophic moral failure if it doesn’t deliver equitable access to vaccines. It would be an economic failure. A new report analysing the impact of the pandemic on the global market finds that 8.8% of global working hours were lost last year resulting in the loss to global income. Until we end the pandemic anywhere we would have ended it anywhere. Rich countries are rolling out vaccines while poor countries watch. I spoke to (Cyril) Ramaphosa telling him we are accelerating the rollout of vaccines in Africa to save lives and get their economies back on track.”

Vaccines

Last week, African Union (AU) Chairperson President Cyril Ramaphosa said millions of coronavirus vaccine doses secured by the AU will be allocated according to countries’ population size.

Ramaphosa said that vaccines from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca would be available in 2021, but he did not specify how much each African country would get.

No African countries have begun large-scale coronavirus vaccination campaigns and the AU’s 270 million shots, if administered two per person, would still only cover around 10% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people.

Healthcare systems

The Africa Centres for Disease Control & Prevention has called on member states to strengthen their healthcare systems in preparation for the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team has secured 270-million vaccines for the continent with the first batch of 50 million doses expected between April and June this year.

The Centre’s Director, Dr John Nkengasong says the target is to vaccinate 60% of Africa’s population by the end of 2022.