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Africa needs 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by September to vaccinate 10% of populations   

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Africa needs some 200 million COVID-19 doses by September this year to get 10 per cent of its populations vaccinated against the coronavirus.

According to Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, some 20 million doses are also needed by mid-July to enable people in Africa who have received the first dose of the vaccine to complete the second dose on schedule.

She said these when addressing journalists in Africa at a virtual press conference organised by WHO Africa, to afford journalists on the continent the opportunity to ask questions on the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, as well as on other health issues.

Other panelists who addressed the meeting were Honorable Semano Henry Sekatle, Minister of Health, Lesotho and Her Excellency Stéphanie Seydoux, Ambassador for Global Health, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France.

Dr. Moeti used the meeting to appeal to partners and countries to redeem pledges made to support Africa with its vaccination programme.

She noted that sharing of vaccines with Africa is a short-term measure but the manufacturing of these vaccines holds the long-term solution through multi-country approaches.

The WHO is meanwhile looking at data on the implications of delays in vaccine schedules and the administering of second doses of the vaccines.

It is also gathering data on real life delivery of these vaccines to enable it make recommendations.According to the global body, data emerging shows that the COVID-19 pandemic would be around for a long time and the world would have to learn to live with the virus, hence the need to go into manufacturing and the development of therapeutic tools in Africa.

The Honourable Semano Henry Sekatle, Minister of Health, Lesotho, shared the Lesotho experiences in the deployment of the vaccines, saying they had in place a comprehensive programme to deploy the vaccine and in March this year, they were expecting about 132,000 doses of vaccine.

However, he said his country got a little over 36,000 vaccines and the demand for the vaccines shot up, and so it was embarrassing to turn people away. He thanked France for coming in to support Lesotho under the COVAX facility.

The COVAX facility is a global platform with the biggest and most diverse portfolio of COVID vaccines making it possible for African countries, such as Ghana, to get access to some of the scarce vaccines.

It is one of the pillars under the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, launched by the WHO, the European Commission and France in response to the pandemic.

Her Excellency Stéphanie Seydoux, Ambassador for Global Health, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, in addressing the virtual meeting said France has been supportive in sharing vaccines with Africa right from the beginning.

She noted that a solidarity approach is what is needed to deliver vaccines and tools to deal with the pandemic and enhance the global response, since it ensures fairness.

She said France is interested in helping Africa to go into local manufacturing of the vaccines. Adding that it supports the need for the transfer of technology and knowledge in Africa by using the WHO platform.

By Eunice Menka

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