AU Warns Of ‘Terrible’ Health Consequences Should Africa Miss Out On COVID-19 Vaccine

The African Union Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Thursday it will be “extremely terrible” for the world to watch African countries go without a coronavirus vaccine.

The Africa CDC Director, John Nkengasong, said on Thursday that failure by African countries to receive the vaccines for the coronavirus pandemic in a timely manner could terribly undermine the continent’s development record and upset global efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

“It would be extremely terrible for the world to watch Africa not receive the vaccines while some countries have bought the vaccines in excess,” Nkengasong said.

He said African countries would not get enough vaccines from the COVAX vaccine network, an initiative by 172 countries around the world to access the vaccine.

At least 500 million vaccines would be secured by countries to target immunisation campaigns.

“We would have our developmental process challenged if we do not get this vaccine soon,” Nkengasong told reporters.

He said African countries, with a population of nearly 1.3 billion people, has never vaccinated so many people at the same time.

While the promising vaccine candidates Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines and Moderna vaccines require low temperature storage facilities, the ability to have them cover millions of people remains a logistical nightmare.

The Africa CDC official said availing deep freezers in major cities to ensure temperatures of negative 80 degrees are maintained would be part of efforts to deal with the pandemic in Africa.

“Africa has never vaccinated as many as this number required. The coordination is the key issue,” Nkengasong said.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa plans to host a high level Taskforce meeting on vaccine acquisition on 20 January 2021 on the access to vaccine.

Nkengasong said the meeting will underline the highest efforts to carry out the vaccines in Africa.

He said unless 60 percent is vaccinated we will have the pandemic endemic in Africa.

Meanwhile, the AU has advised African countries to work together under the joint African Union initiative to secure the vaccines jointly.

“We have endorsed a continental strategy on vaccine approach. We need countries to adhere to the continental strategy. It will backfire if we go alone. The Africa CDC is ready to negotiate on behalf of all the others,” Nkengasong said.