AVDA: Heads of state must address COVID vaccine equity at UN General Assembly

WHO officials said that the 470 million coronavirus vaccine doses expected to arrive in Africa via the Covax mechanism by December this year were enough to vaccinate just 17% of the continent's population.

Ghana received 600,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as part of the global Covax scheme on 24 February 2021. Picture: WHO

CAPE TOWN - African leaders should step up efforts to procure more COVID-19 vaccines for the continent.

So said the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, AVDA, whose representatives addressed a World Health Organization Africa virtual briefing on Thursday afternoon.

AVDA co-chairperson, Doctor Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, said that equitable coronavirus vaccine access should be addressed by heads of state at the UN General Assembly in New York next week.

"We call on them to ensure that in the first sentence of their speech they mention equitable access to vaccines, that they ask the rich countries of the world with their entire speech, to my mind, really should be: where are Africa's vaccines? Where are the vaccines for the lower-middle income countries of the world?"

WHO officials said that the 470 million coronavirus vaccine doses expected to arrive in Africa via the Covax mechanism by December this year were enough to vaccinate just 17% of the continent's population.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said that this was short of the global target of 40%.

"Even if all planned shipments via Covax and the African Union arrive, Africa still needs almost 500 million more doses to reach the year-end goal. At this rate, the continent may reach the 40% target by the end of March next year."

Moeti said that so far, only 3.6% of Africa's population had been immunised against COVID-19.

"Manufacturers need to be more transparent about their supply schedules and countries with enough doses should give up their place in the manufacturing queue for Covax."

The global health body has set a target to have 40% of all countries' populations immunised by the end of this year and 70% of the global population by the middle of next year.

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