Vaccine rollout: Around 80% of African countries lagging behind, says WHO

The WHO said each country needed to inform the global health body what priority groups they wanted to jab first, which vaccine they preferred, how they were to execute the plan, and whether they needed assistance.

FILE: A lab technician sorts blood samples inside a lab for a COVID-19 vaccine study at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on 13 August 2020. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said the majority of African countries were lagging behind when it came to submitting their vaccine rollout plans - with many warning they wouldn't make next week’s deadline and needed an extension.

The WHO said each country needed to inform the global health body what priority groups they wanted to jab first, which vaccine they preferred, how they were to execute the plan, and whether they needed assistance.

The organisation’s Dr Phiona Atuhebwe - who is the Africa new vaccines introduction medical officer and vaccinologist - said some countries still needed help with their plans.

“About 80% of African countries are lagging behind. What we’ve done now is we have massively recruited consultants who can support these countries and we did give countries extra support to help them finalise their development plans.”

Atuhebwe said they were also trying to help with more funding to ensure African countries received more doses than the Covax facility was offering.

“We are looking at a number of different sources of funding and we hope that countries can leverage from this to increase the number of doses they can get into their countries.”

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