Covid19 vaccine rollouts begin in Africa
African countries are starting mass Covid inoculation drives using vaccines supplied through a scheme set up to share doses fairly with poorer nations. Ivory Coast is one of the first to benefit from the UN-backed Covax distribution initiative, with injections beginning on Monday.
The rollout will initially focus on the most vulnerable – those aged over 60 or with serious underlying health issues – and essential workers, such as medical professionals, teachers, police and even some journalists.
The campaigns in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire follow deliveries to both countries last week with Ghana taking delivery of 600,000 doses on February 24 and Côte d’Ivoire 504,000 doses two days later. Both countries received the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). The vaccine, branded COVISHIELD, was granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization on February 15.
The start of Africa’s biggest immunization drive in history through the COVAX Facility marks a step forward in the continent’s fight against COVID-19. It is a welcome shift towards bringing African countries off the sidelines and back into the vaccination race, correcting the glaring inequity which has been an unfortunate hallmark of the global vaccine rollout to date. For months WHO teams in the region and partners have been supporting countries to plan and prepare for the complex challenges of such a massive vaccination campaign. We now look forward to seeing these plans put into action with an effective and efficient vaccine rollout,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.