WHO says COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Africa has gathered steam
The deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa has accelerated amid the quest to contain the virus and reopen the continent's economy, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, Xinhua reports.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the continent has stepped up procurement of vaccines to inoculate groups at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
"The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines is an incredible, much-awaited leap forward for African countries that have spent months preparing while wealthy countries race ahead with vaccination," Moeti said in a statement issued in Nairobi late Thursday.
Ghana on Wednesday became the first African country to receive 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine procured through the COVAX facility.
Moeti said that Cote d'Ivoire will receive its vaccine allocation Friday while 24 African countries are expected to receive their doses procured under COVAX in a fortnight.
"COVAX is a global expression of equity and it cannot be stressed enough that to end the pandemic all countries must move forward with vaccination together. No country is safe until all countries are safe," said Moeti.
She said that the majority of African countries are participating in COVAX facilities and have put robust systems in place to facilitate mass inoculation against COVID-19 disease.
"The COVID-19 vaccines will help save lives and boost economic recovery. There is a need for more investments in vaccine equity including sharing of surplus by wealthy nations," said Moeti.
According to Moeti, 600 million doses procured under COVAX facility will be delivered in Africa in 2021 to help inoculate vulnerable groups like frontline health care workers, the elderly and terminally ill.
Moeti said that vigorous public education is key to boosting vaccine acceptance in Africa where new variants combined with easing of public health containment measures have slowed down the flattening of the virus curve.
Richard Mihigo, the coordinator for Immunization and Vaccine Development at WHO Regional Office for Africa, said the continent has ramped up readiness for mass inoculation against COVID-19.