Africa needs at least 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine in the next six weeks to be able to give second doses to everyone who received the firstThe World Health Organization (WHO) said this Thursday.
?As supplies become scarcer, dose sharing is an urgent, critical, and short-term solution to ensure that Africans most at risk of covid-19 get much-needed protection,? said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Africa needs vaccines now. Any pause in our vaccination campaigns will lead to loss of life and loss of hope," she added at the weekly press conference on the evolution of the pandemic on the African continent.
The organization recalls that a single dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine gives about 70% of protection for at least 12 weeks, while full vaccination with a 12-week interval gives 81% of protection for a prolonged period.
Therefore, the WHO argues, at least 20 million doses are needed to be able to vaccinate everyone who has received the first dose of the immunizer with the second dose in a period between eight and 12 weeks.
In addition to these, an additional 200 million doses of any WHO-approved covid-19 vaccine are needed for the continent to vaccinate 10% of its population by September 2021.
To date, only 28 million doses of different vaccines have been administered in African countries, which is less than two doses per 100 people.
Figures that contrast with the 1.5 billion doses of vaccine given worldwide.
It is too early to tell if Africa is on the verge of a third wave. However, we know that cases are increasing and time is running out, so we urgently call on countries that have vaccinated their high-risk groups to speed up the sharing of doses to fully protect the most vulnerable people,? urged Moeti.
The WHO director for Africa's call reinforces a request also made by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the World Health Assembly earlier this week for all WHO member states to support vaccination efforts in developing countries.
The European Union and its member states have pledged more than 100 million doses for low-income countries by the end of 2021.
The United States has announced that it will share 80 million doses, and other high-income countries have expressed interest in sharing vaccines.
For the WHO, ?accelerating these promises is crucial? and the Covax platform is ?a proven tool for rapid delivery?
Also African countries that cannot use all their vaccines are sharing them.
The WHO reaffirms the need for Africa to increase its vaccine manufacturing capacity in the long term, admitting, however, that ?there is no quick fix? and that the whole process ?could take years?
?intellectual property waivers are a crucial first step, but must be accompanied by the sharing of expertise and key technologies? argues the organization.
At least 100 member countries of the organization, including 54 in Africa, are sponsoring a draft resolution to this effect, led by Ethiopia, and being discussed at this week's World Health Assembly.
The resolution aims to strengthen local production, promote technology transfers and innovation, and reach an agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights.