John Nkengasong, the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that 60 percent of the population on the continent needs the Coronavirus vaccine in the next two to three years. But he warned that if that process takes four to five years, the SARS-CoV-2 virus "will be endemic in our communities" said the top public health official.
While other countries around the world are struggling to control the Coronavirus waves, compared to other continents Africa has been doing better, and there are several facts that helped the African countries during the pandemic. But it doesn't mean that all the African countries are immune and don't need a vaccine against the COVID-19.
In Africa, there are concerns that the continent will be near the end of the line in accessing an effective and safe vaccine. Even the African CDC director is also not sure about the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine shot before the second quarter of 2021.
While referring to the UK's approval for the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Nkengasong said,"If I had my way today to take a flight to the U.K. and get that vaccine, I would be doing it right now."
Vaccination of 60 Percent of the Population
As per a top healthcare official in Africa, 60 percent of the people in the continent, belonging to 54 African countries, need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Nkengasong pointed out the challenges and said that Africa has never vaccinated 200 million people within a year—a reference to the goal of reaching about 20 percent of Africa's population by the end of next year. He also noted that no "sub-standard' vaccine will be used to immunize the African people.
However, Africans cannot afford to do country-by-country regulatory approval for a vaccine, said Nkengasong, estimating that it would take five years or maybe more. But Africa's CDC is offering a platform in which regulatory bodies from each nation can agree on a mechanism to approve any Coronavirus vaccines that come to the continent.
As reported, some African nations have been trying to get vaccine doses outside the global initiative to distribute a safe and effective vaccine, known as COVAX. But the African CDC head said, "We are stronger when we are together," and added that "if we go in a dispersed way as a continent, then our overall strategy will suffer."