Africa might have to wait for years to access enough COVID-19 vaccines for its population until richer countries’ orders are met by vaccine producers.
GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, on Wednesday announced that it would provide COVID-19 vaccines to almost all countries in Africa under the framework of the COVAX facility that aims to facilitate low- and mid-income countries’ access to the COVID-19 vaccines. However, the amounts indicated in the GAVI’s announcement are not sufficient to vaccinate even 5% of the population covered by the COVAX facility.
Of the Sub-Saharan countries in Africa, only Seychelles and Mauritius commenced mass-vaccination campaigns while Guinea is still testing Russian Sputnik V vaccines. Furthermore, Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt of North Africa also started mass-vaccination campaigns.
The number of COVID-19 related fatalities in Africa exceeded 93,000 while the number of cases is over 3.6 million.
Experts argue that at least 60% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people should be vaccinated in order to have mass immunization.
Though African Union (AU) seems to have ordered enough vaccines, the delivery date of vaccines remains uncertain.
To date, AU ordered at least 670 million doses of vaccines from vaccine producers. Additional 700 million doses of vaccines are expected to come to the Continent within the framework of the COVAX facility.
To finance the cost, AU will utilize the COVAX donation initiative, World Bank, Afreximbank, and various donors.
Tanzania is the only African country, which has not announced a mass-vaccination scheme so far.
Vaccine programs of African countries
Some countries in the Continent bypassed international organizations and opted to purchase vaccines directly from the producers.
Recently, South Africa put an order for 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India and took delivery of the first batch of the vaccines.
Similarly, Uganda made a deal with the Serum Institute of India to purchase 18 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines.
While Guinea and Algeria ordered 2 million and 500,000, respectively, doses of Sputnik V vaccines from Russia, Morocco ordered 2 million doses of AstraZeneca and 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines.
Seychelles that has a 94,000 population initiated its vaccination campaign with 5,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines donated by UAE.
Mauritius has been carrying out its vaccination campaign with 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines donated by India.