Africa has stepped from planning to action in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported mid-February 2021. Thus, a rapid vaccine rollout is expected in the wake of the WHO listing of two versions of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
National deployment and vaccination plans for COVID-19 vaccines from 35 low-income African countries eligible for free vaccines from the COVAX Facility have been accepted by an independent regional review committee. The plans are required for countries to receive vaccines from COVAX, the global initiative aiming to ensure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines, led by WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
While the regional committee of over 100 experts from six leading global public health bodies certified the deployment plans, it called for more work on setting up systems to manage the logistics and supply chain for vaccines, reaching refugees, migrants and internally displaced people and financing national vaccination campaigns.
The move to roll out COVID-19 vaccines comes as new evidence shows new variants of the virus are spreading across the continent. In all the African countries that have detected the new variants, the pandemic spread faster in the second wave than in the first one.
Variant 501Y.V2 [also known as B1.351] first identified in South Africa is predominant in South Africa and Zambia and has been detected in a total of nine African nations including Botswana, Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The VOC202012/01variant [also known as B1.1.7] first detected in the United Kingdom has been found in six African countries, Gambia, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa.
Read more at WHO website