Sat, 15 May 2021

  • The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said vaccine deliveries for second Covid-19 jabs have been delayed.
  • John Nkengasong lamented the lack of access to vaccines for African countries.
  • "We are in a bind as a continent," Nkengasong told reporters.

Many Africans who have received their first Covid-19 vaccine do not know when they will get a second shot because deliveries are delayed, the continent's top public health official said on Thursday.

"We cannot predict when the second doses will come and that is not good for our vaccination programme," John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), told reporters on Thursday.

Africa lags behind most other regions in Covid-19 vaccinations, with just less than 14 million doses having been administered on the continent of 1.3 billion, according to the Africa CDC.

Ghana, for example, has administered around 742 000 doses of the 815 000 shots it has so far received and will run out by the end of next week.

"Even if Ghana had the money, they will not know where to go get the vaccine, that's the challenge," said Nkengasong.

READ HERE | African vaccine delivery is slowed by India's second wave

So far, the majority of the vaccines available in African countries have been delivered via the World Health Organisation-backed COVAX facility. COVAX aims to deliver 600 million shots to some 40 African countries this year, enough to vaccinate 20% of their populations.

The majority of those doses are AstraZeneca shots produced by the Serum Insitute of India. But last month, India suspended its exports to meet rising domestic demand amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

READ | Malawi to destroy 16 000 expired Covid-19 vaccines

That has caused great uncertainty for Africa's vaccination rollout.

"We are in a bind as a continent," he added. "Access to vaccines has been limited for us."

He said he hopes India, where new infections have topped 200 000 a day, will lift its restriction as soon as possible.

People who have received their first jab are already benefiting from some protection from the virus, he said, and he urged nations to use their doses before they expire.

Source: News24

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