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COVID-19 Vaccinations In Africa May Not Start Before Mid-2021, Top Public Health Official Says

Vaccinations against COVID-19 might not start in Africa until the middle of next year, the head of the continent’s disease control group said on Thursday.

“We are very concerned as a continent that we will not have access to vaccines in a timely fashion,” the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John Nkengasong, said at a news conference, adding “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available” in the past. 

Nkengasong said the goal was to vaccinate 60% of the continent’s population to achieve herd immunity.

Call for leadership: The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement Thursday that their new analysis has found that Africa is far from ready for what will be the continent’s largest ever immunization drive and urged African countries to urgently ramp up readiness.

According to WHO data, just 24% of countries surveyed have adequate resource and funding plans, and just under half have “identified the priority populations for vaccination and have plans in place to reach them.”

“Planning and preparation will make or break this unprecedented endeavor, and we need active leadership and engagement from the highest levels of government with solid, comprehensive national coordination plans and systems put in place,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, was quoted saying in the statement.

Vaccine drive will cost billions: WHO estimates the cost of rolling out a Covid-19 vaccine on the African continent to priority populations will be around $5.7 billion. The figure does not include additional costs of up to 20% extra for injection materials and the delivery of vaccines, which require trained health workers, supply chain and logistics and community mobilization.

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