The African Union (AU) has confirmed that it has received forms from 20 nations outlining their intentions to buy about 200 million shots of the COVID-19 vaccines, as financial arrangements are still being finalized with the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank).
The disclosure was made by Dr.John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC), during an online briefing, according to the news report by Bloomberg.
Dr. Nkengasong asked, “African countries to proceed with dispensing the AstraZeneca shot if they have not reported widespread circulation of the new variant known as 501Y.V2.
“Those countries that had detected the strain — South Africa, Botswana, Comoros, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique — should accelerate their preparedness to introduce all vaccines that have received emergency-use authorization.
“Africa CDC will support all countries on the continent to expand their genome sequencing surveillance capabilities so that “we better understand the lay of the land with respect to the new variants.”
What you should know
- The AU’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team initiative is intended to complement the international vaccine financing initiative Covax in 600 million doses to Africa by the end of 2021.
- Africa has lagged behind in the global race of dispensing the COVID-19 vaccine shots.
- The vaccine rollout in South Africa was suspended as the result of a small study indicated that the shots developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford were not quite effective for the new strains.
- A World Health Organisation panel has recently underlined the benefits of continuing to use the AstraZeneca vaccine even in variant-hit areas.
- AstraZeneca Plc has pledged significant supplies to Covax and noted that their vaccines are quite cheaper and easier to deploy than others that need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures.
- Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, the Gambia and Nigeria have reported the spread of a different strain that was first identified in the UK and is also causing concern.
- African countries have been requested to produce data on the safety and efficacy of vaccines on populations that have these variants so that decisions on which shots are best for which countries can be ascertained before mass inoculations are rolled out.