Africa will receive nearly 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from COVAX in February 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) African region said on Thursday.
“Africa has watched other regions start COVID-19 vaccination campaigns from the side-lines for too long,” WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti said during a briefing on the roll-out of vaccines in the continent. “This planned roll-out is a critical first step to ensuring the continent gets equitable access to vaccines. We know no one will be safe until everyone is safe.”
In what could be described as the largest ever mass vaccination campaign in Africa, the agency noted that the vaccines would come mainly from the AstraZeneca/Oxford AZD1222 vaccine. However, the rollout is subject to the vaccine being approved for emergency use by the WHO. The review is expected to be received soon, the agency added.
Africa has watched other regions start #COVID19 vaccination campaigns from the side-lines for too long. This planned roll-out is a critical first step to ensuring the continent gets equitable access to vaccines.
We know no one will be safe until everyone is safe. pic.twitter.com/Voaq84Ha1N
— Dr Matshidiso Moeti (@MoetiTshidi) February 4, 2021
These doses are targeted at vaccinating 3% of the African population who are most in need of protection, including health workers and other vulnerable groups in the first half of 2021.
Equally, about 320 000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four nations – Cape Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia. These countries are able to store and distribute the COVID-19 vaccines at minus 70 degrees Celsius, the agency said.
And as COVID-19 vaccine production capacity increases, the WHO said its target is to vaccinate at least 20% of Africans by providing up to 600 million doses by the end of the year.