In the next two to three years, the African Union is targeting the vaccination of 60% of Africa’s population, against COVID-19.
This was revealed on Thursday by the disease control group of the umbrella body for countries in Africa.
Africa, with a current population of more than 1.3bn people has recorded at least 2.2million COVID-19 cases. The worst-hit country in the continent is South Africa, which has almost 800,000 cases and has recorded more than 21,000 deaths.
While the UN has said it will collaborate with pharmaceutical companies and international organisations to make vaccines available to some African countries, the timing of vaccination has become a major concern.
“We hope that for this to be meaningful, our 60% must be reached in the next two to three years. We should be deliberate in this,” said John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mr Nkengasong warned African leaders about the need to start the vaccinations in good time, in order to prevent the disease from becoming endemic.
He added that there are also logistics problems being faced by the continent, with how to keep vaccines’ cold chains viable also posing a challenge.
“We have a window from now to January and February to keep strengthening our systems, which is the refrigeration,” said Nkengasong.
Africa is one of the least coronavirus-infected regions of the world, but there have been fears about the resurgence of the disease, with new outbreaks recorded in Kenya and South Africa.
An average of 3,000 daily cases being recorded in South Africa, while Kenyan health workers said the increase in the number of cases is affecting its medical systems.
Companies like Pfizer and BioNTech have recorded successes with their COVID-19 trials, with the stronger economies of the world already booking significant doses for their populations.
African countries have been charged to look inwards in their search for a vaccine and also, in the improvement of their health systems.
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