Nigeria vaccinates 1.05m with 1st dose
By Sola Ogundipe
Uncertainty now hangs over Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and vaccination campaign no thanks to a shortage of vaccine doses across the continent.
Currently, persons that have received their first vaccine doses in most African countries, have no guarantee of receiving the second doses as a result of dwindling supplies amid delays in deliveries from accredited suppliers.
Worse still, a large number of persons that are yet to be vaccinated in the affected countries may have to wait for longer than expected until the expected supplies of doses arrive.
The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa CDC, Dr John Nkengasong, who disclosed this on Thursday, decried the development, noting that Africa is in a bind over limited access to vaccine doses.
“We cannot predict when the second doses will come and that is not good for our vaccination programme. We are in a bind as a continent. Access to vaccines has been limited for us.”
Nkegasong hoped that India, where new infections have topped 200,000 a day, will lift its restriction as soon as possible, even as he noted that Africa lags behind most other regions in COVID-19 vaccinations, with less than 14 million doses administered on the continent of 1.3 billion.
“Ghana, for example, has administered around 742,000 doses of the 815,000 shots it has so far received and will run out by the end of next week.
“Even if Ghana had the money, they will not know where to go get the vaccine, that’s the challenge,” Nkengasong stated.
The bulk of the vaccines in African countries delivered via COVAX Facility, the WHO-backed arrangement are AstraZeneca shots produced by the Serum Insitute of India, SII.
In March, India suspended all vaccine exports to meet rising domestic demand amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, causing great uncertainty for Africa’s vaccination rollout.
People who have received their first jab are already benefiting from some protection from the virus, Nkegasons said urging nations to use up their doses before they expire.
A total of 45 African countries have started COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. Over two-thirds of the administered doses have been given in 10 countries where supplies are running low or are depleted.