Africa fears a second wave of COVID-19 and is preparing for the arrival of the vaccine, the regional management of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
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“There are now more than two million cases of COVID-19 in Africa and unfortunately 48,000 people have died,” said WHO regional director for the continent, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
“In the past 28 days, cases have increased compared to last month in 19 countries including Kenya, Algeria, Ghana and Algeria,” Dr Moeti added at an online press conference from WHO-Africa headquarters in Brazzaville.
Invited to the virtual press briefing, epidemiologist Salim S. Abdoul Karim identified three factors that could favor a second wave, particularly in his country, South Africa: “complacency” with regard to preventive measures, large gatherings favoring contamination, and the approach of the end of year holidays.
The two speakers welcomed the announcement of a 95% effective anti-Covid-19 vaccine made in recent days by the Pfizer and Moderna laboratories.
For access to vaccines, they recalled that African countries were banking on the international Covax platform, a funding mechanism to allow 92 low and middle income countries to have access to safe and effective vaccines against COVID- 19.
In total, Covax contributors (European Union, France, Spain, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) have pledged “more than $ 2 billion,” said the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, which co-directs Covax, on November 13.
“However, at least an additional $ 5 billion will still have to be found in 2021 to purchase vaccine doses as they are delivered,” the Alliance added.
WHO-Africa does not yet know what will be Africa’s share in this funding.
The WHO regional director reported “discussion” with Moderna “to be able to obtain doses as soon as the vaccine is available”.
“The idea is not to try to vaccinate everyone, it’s impossible,” added Dr Moeti.
“The goal is to reach 20% of the population by the end of next year” giving priority to the most vulnerable, she said.
Welcoming the end of the 11th Ebola epidemic in DRC, the WHO regional director added: “The innovations used to combat Ebola, such as technologies to keep vaccines at ultra-cold temperatures, will be of great recourse when it comes to bringing a COVID-19 vaccine to Africa ”.