The World Health Organization has urged African countries to improve their capacity to vaccinate populations against COVID-19, warning the continent was still far from ready for mass immunisation.
With three coronavirus vaccines now showing efficacy rates of 70 percent or more, the UN body called on Africa to ramp up preparations for the continent’s largest-ever immunisation drive.
WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti said during a virtual press briefing, that planning and preparation will make or break this unprecedented endeavour.
The WHO estimates that rolling out a Covid-19 vaccine to just priority populations in Africa will cost around $5.7 billion.
The World Bank has also set aside $12 billion (10.1 billion euros) to help developing countries finance their immunisation programs.
Moeti said the aim was to vaccinate three percent of Africa’s population by March 2021, and 20 percent by the end of the year.
Other health experts at the briefing said additional research was needed to develop vaccines more suitable to the continent.
They noted that a promising vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which tested at a 95 percent success rate at its latest trial, must be kept at -70 degrees celsius all but impossible for most hospitals in Africa.
So far only Egypt, Morocco, Kenya and South Africa have active Covid-19 vaccine trials.
Moeti said it was important for the continent not to fall behind on global preparations for Covid-19 vaccinations even though coronavirus infections had somewhat plateaued.