The World Health Organization (WHO) has moved to secure an initial 230 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for Africa, while also advocating that any vaccine in development should also be tested on the continent.
This is as the African continent hopes to benefit from the global vaccine allocation plan, known as COVAX, which aims to help purchase and distribute equitably, 2 billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021.
The disclosure was made by the programme area manager for WHO Africa, Richard Mihigo, to an online news conference.
Mr. Mihigo said, “This (initial batch) will cover 20% of the African population, initially prioritizing those who are the front line, health care workers, then expanding to cover vulnerable groups.’’
It can be recalled that during an interview with Reuters, the Chief Executive Officer of GAVI vaccine alliance, Seth Berkley, said 76 wealthy countries have committed to joining a global Covid-19 vaccine allocation plan, which is co-led by the WHO.
The scheme has 9 Covid-19 vaccine candidates covering a range of technologies and scientific approaches. Some of them are in the final stage of clinical trials and could have data available by the end of the year.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Richard Hatchett, disclosed that only 2 of the potential Covid-19 vaccines are being tested in Africa. The CEPI, co-leads the COVAX project with the WHO and the Gavi vaccines alliance.
He said, “Testing vaccines on the continent ensures that sufficient data is generated on the safety and efficacy of the most promising vaccine candidates for the African population so they can be confidently rolled out in Africa.’’
The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, explained in an online news conference that talks with COVAX would supplement other negotiations with countries like China, Canada and the United States over securing access to shots