The situation of COVId-19 vaccination in Africa

The situation of COVId-19 vaccination in Africa

The outspread of COVId-19 has undoubtedly led to numerous mortalities worldwide, and lack of access to COVID-19 vaccine has contributed significantly to these unfortunate conditions. Vaccines are currently available in several countries, but the requirement of strategies to prevent vaccine hesitancy is still evident in some parts of the world, particularly in Africa (Afolabi & Ilesanmi, 2021). COVID-19 has changed the world, taking lives, affecting health systems, and damaging livelihoods. However, during all these problems and hard times, humanity has been reflected in close multilateral cooperation. As highlighted by the UNICEF Executive Director, the last year was a dark period of time for all families worldwide, but with the rapid COVID-19 vaccine development, the darkness is hoped to finish (Desmidt and Neat, 2020). Since the onset of the pandemic, the focus has been on collaboration and collective efforts in the African continent. Several individual African countries are seeking to secure their own doses of the COVID-19 vaccines (Adepoju, 2021). However, although some progress is experienced, many African countries have hardly gone beyond the starting point. According to WHO Regional Director for Africa, the gap for the African population is widening, representing worsened inequalities which have left over a billion Africans on the margins.

According to Desmidt and Neat (2020), to provide the African population with the required number of COVID-19 vaccines and also ensure reaching all sections of society, several international initiatives have been considered to support the supply of vaccine in Africa. The most important initiatives include the African Union COVID-19 vaccine initiatives, international COVID-19 vaccination initiatives, and testing and production of vaccines. In line with these initiatives, the start of Africa’s biggest immunization is happening through COVAX in the fight against the pandemic. A shift which is bringing the African population out of the margins back into the vaccination race, as pointed out by WHO Regional Director for Africa. W.H.O has attempted for months to bring the regional and international cooperation aimed at planning and preparation for the effective and efficient vaccine rollout. As stressed by CEO of CEPI on March 2021, this is an important experience in the global fight against the pandemic as Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have received their vaccine through COVAX, protecting hundreds of millions of populations at risk of the pandemic. The goal has been to compensate the imbalanced vaccine distribution and focus on bringing the pandemic to an end by global vaccine accessibility. As reported by Adepoju (2021), In addition to the vaccine doses provided through COVAX, Africa on its own has also secured 250 million further doses from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson, through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. The African Union Chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, on Jan 13, 2021, declared receiving at least 50 million doses for roll out between April and June. Seychelles was the first African country which started COVID-19 vaccination, facilitated by the donation of 50 000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine.

Julia Faria, on April 2021, Morocco administered over 8.95 million coronavirus vaccination doses, the highest number in Africa. It began the immunization campaign in January, after the approval from emergency use of the British AstraZeneca and Chinese Sinopharm vaccines. Nigeria has been the second most vaccinated country in the African continent, with distribution of over 1.17 million doses distributed. However, one of the logistic challenges is that only three countries, including Morocco, Egypt, and South Africa have planned to manufacture international COVID-19 vaccines (Development Reimagined. 2021b). Yet, given the wide range of initiatives and strategies adopted by African countries during the history of vaccination campaigns, it is hoped that the current challenges are also addressed through effective planning and monitoring.

Overall, it should be noted that although there have always been challenges in the African continent, the presence and cooperation of the international communities with the WHO, UNICEF, the Red Cross, and other humanitarian organizations will probably help in the promotion and implementation of vaccination campaigns in the continent. Successful vaccination in such complex environments will be only possible through collective and systematic work.

References
Adepoju, P. (2021). Africa prepares for COVID-19 vaccines. The Lancet Microbe, 2(2), e59.
Afolabi, A. A., & Ilesanmi, O. S. (2021). Dealing with vaccine hesitancy in Africa: the prospective COVID-19 vaccine context. The Pan African Medical Journal, 38.
Desmidt, S., & Neat, A. (2020). COVID-19 in Africa. https://euagenda.eu/upload/publications/covid-19-in-africa-driver-of-conflict-or-too-early-to-tell.pdf
Development Reimagined. 2021b. 25 African countries don’t yet have vaccine orders – is this a problem or not? 4 February 2021.
Faria, J. (2021). COVID-19 vaccination doses administered in Africa as of April 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1220391/covid-19-vaccination-doses-in-africa-by-country/
https://www.afro.who.int/news/less-2-worlds-covid-19-vaccines-administered-africa
https://www.afro.who.int/news/africas-covid-19-vaccination-gains-pace-nearly-7-million-doses-given