The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday, September 3, 2020 that donors and industry stakeholders should allocate sufficient resources to ensure African countries had access to safe and efficacious coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
Richard Mihigo, Programme Area Manager of Immunisation and Vaccine Development of WHO, disclosed this at a news briefing in Nairobi, Kenya.
Mihigo said the needs and aspirations of African countries should be at the heart of the ongoing global efforts to develop vaccines against the pandemic.
“”Africa has often ended up at the back seat of vaccine development but this must not happen as the fight against COVID-19 pandemic enters a critical phase.
“”We must secure enough doses and give priority to the frontline health workers, the aged and people with underlying conditions in the continent,” Mihigo said.
According to the WHO official, all 54 African countries have signed up to COVAX, an initiative fronted by WHO in conjunction with the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
The collaboration is aimed at securing at least 220 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for the continent.
Mitoha Ondo’ O Ayekaba, Vice Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Equatorial Guinea, said that COVAX provided innovative financing options to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine became readily available in Africa.
“”We believe that through this initiative we can access successfully tested vaccines in a timely manner and at a lower cost,” Ayekeba said.
He noted that Equatorial Guinea is among eight African countries that have agreed to self-finance their COVID-19 doses under the COVAX Facility.
Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, said that two COVID-19 candidates, supported by COVAX initiative, were already undergoing clinical trials in South Africa, to help ascertain their efficacy and safety.
Testing vaccines on the continent ensures that sufficient data is generated on the safety and efficacy of the most promising vaccine candidates for the African population so they can be confidently rolled out in Africa once vaccines are approved,” said Hatchett.