Africa CDC Director, Dr. John Nkengasong, revealed that more than 116,000 new cases of coronavirus and 2,387 deaths were reported over the past weeks across the continent.
He said this during CDC’s weekly Covid-19 briefing on Thursday and stated that the numbers represent a 17% increase in cases and 8.7% increase in deaths.
From August to December, more than 15,000 adults across 15 African countries – Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, SA, Sudan, Tunisia, and Uganda – were surveyed about their willingness to take a Covid-19 vaccine.
Nearly 80% of adults surveyed in 15 African countries said they would take a Covid-19 vaccine if it were safe and effective, scientists reported on Thursday as new infections and deaths rose steeply across the continent.
Older adults, those who knew someone with Covid-19 and those who live in rural areas were more likely to accept a vaccine than younger people in urban areas, who did not know people affected by the virus.
Prof Heidi Larson, Study co-Lead and Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, joined him to share the results of the Covid-19 vaccine survey.
What they are saying
Prof Heidi Larson submitted that:
- “The willingness to take a protective Covid-19 vaccine varied across countries and regions, from 94% and 93% in Ethiopia and Niger respectively, to 65% and 59% in Senegal and the DRC respectively. The unwillingness to take a vaccine, expressed by about one in five respondents, related more to the influence of its safety than belief in conspiracy theories or misinformation about vaccines.
- “On average, 18% of respondents believed that vaccines generally were not safe and 25% believed that a Covid-19 vaccine would be unsafe.
- “There are a number of people who are uncertain and that’s quite reasonable in this time of uncertainty with Covid-19 itself but also given the newness of the vaccine.
- “The key reasons for resistance to taking the Covid-19 vaccine is related to mistrust about who was providing it, including governments, and also denialism about the existence of coronavirus and its risks. Globally, there has been a decline in vaccine acceptability and uptake because of doubts about their efficacy, safety and the spread of misinformation.”
Nkengasong described the survey results as an “eye-opener that provides critical scientific evidence” to guide the Africa CDC, member states and partners in their optimization of Covid-19 vaccine uptake. He stated that:
- “There should be no doubt that the second wave is here and that it is threatening to be even more aggressive than the first wave… but we are better prepared than we were 11 months ago to fight this.
- “Covid-safe festivity end of the year season should be the theme for the December holidays.
- “The Africa CDC was working hard behind the scenes to make sure the continent is not left behind when it comes to vaccines. We are doing our best to be assured that the continent gets vaccines in 2021 and in large amounts, because if we only get to 60% after three or four years, the consequences would be horrendous.
- “Look at what countries are going through now with the second wave and lockdowns, schools are closing, beaches are closing down. The President of SA just announced series of lockdown measures. We can’t live like that (indefinitely).”
Key highlights from the CDC Coid-19 briefing
- All vaccines be pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation.
- Pharmaceutical companies should be approached to consider selling the vaccines to African countries at discounted rates.
- Local manufacturing and production are supported.
- Partnership is built with the private sector, particularly on logistics.
Of the five African countries reporting most new cases in the past week (7-13 December), SA had the most at 46,399, followed by Morocco (19,952), Tunisia (7,429), Uganda (4,566), and Libya (4,260).
Most new cases per million population per day reported were:
- Botswana (135)
- SA (114)
- Libya (92)
- Tunisia (90)
- Namibia (80)
- Morocco (78).
- New cases reported in Africa over the past month to December 13 have increased on average by 6%, with the highest average increase in Southern Africa at 35%.
- Central and West Africa saw increases of 28% and 27% respectively, while East Africa was under 1% and North Africa had a 9% drop in new cases on average.
- Only the DRC had a higher average increase than SA, at 45% compared to 37% over the past month.
- The DRC also reported an average increase of 109% for new deaths, followed by Nigeria at 38% and SA at 28%, over the past month.
What you should know
- Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is a specialized technical institution of the African Union established to support public health initiatives of Member States and strengthen the capacity of their public health institutions to detect, prevent, control and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats.
- Africa CDC supports African Union Member States in providing coordinated and integrated solutions to the inadequacies in their public health infrastructure, human resource capacity, disease surveillance, laboratory diagnostics, and preparedness and response to health emergencies and disasters.