An additional 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been secured for the African continent through the Serum Institute of India, the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
With the new doses, in addition to the 270 million doses announced earlier this month by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, “I think we are starting to make very good progress,” John Nkengasong, director, told reporters. of the Africa CDC.
He said the new doses were announced at a meeting hosted by the South African president on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the African CDC said the 400 million doses are of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. As with many vaccine offers, there were no immediate details of how much or how much people could pay per dose.
Parts of the African continent are experiencing a sharp resurgence of coronavirus infections, which Nkengasong called “very aggressive”. He warned that the wave had not yet reached its maximum.
Africa’s case fatality rate of 2.5 percent remains above the global rate of 2.2 percent, and 14 out of 54 African countries have case fatality rates above 3 percent. The continent has more than 3.4 million confirmed cases of the virus, including more than 87,000 deaths.
The continent of 1.3 billion people is racing to get enough vaccines to immunize 60% of its population to achieve herd immunity, and officials have repeatedly urged rich countries that have stockpiled vaccine doses to be approached and shared equitably.
Africa is also expected to receive some 600 million doses as part of the global COVAX initiative to help low-income countries.
In a separate briefing Thursday, Richard Mihigo of the World Health Organization told reporters that there was “a very, very good chance that this target will deliver up to 600 million doses by the end of 2021 is definitely reached ”.
The first of those doses is expected to be rolled out in Africa “probably by the middle of next month, and by March we will certainly see most countries immunize, targeting high-risk groups.”
He called it a “slow start,” but said he expected to pick up in the coming months.
As for the 270 million doses announced earlier, “we know very well that some of these doses will not be available soon,” said Mihigo. He did not give details.
He said globally, reaching 35 percent of Africa’s population with COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this year could be a “realistic assumption.”
Mihigo also criticized global differences in the cost of COVID-19 vaccines.
It is a “shocking fact that a rich country can pay less than a country in difficulty,” he said, stressing that high-income African countries like South Africa are not eligible for donations. vaccines. “It’s time, really, to call for a fair price for these countries… at a minimum, the same price the rich countries are getting.”
The WHO Africa chief has also expressed concern over the spread of the variant of the virus which was first identified in South Africa and has become dominant in that country. Now it has been found in Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, Zambia and the French archipelago of Mayotte.
The variant has spread rapidly beyond Africa, “and so what keeps me awake at night right now is that it is most likely circulating in a number of African countries,” Moeti said. .
The variant has now been found in the United States, with South Carolina officials saying two cases have been diagnosed there.